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2010/1 Module Catalogue
 Module Code: ELI3015 Module Title: CREATIVE IDENTITIES
Module Provider: English Short Name: ELI3015
Level: HE3 Module Co-ordinator: UNDERWOOD H Mrs (English)
Number of credits: 20 Number of ECTS credits: 10
Module Availability
Semester 1
Assessment Pattern

Unit(s) of Assessment

















Module Overview

This module analyses changing cultural concepts of the creative artist and writer from c.1600 to the present through selected case studies of historical and imaginary individuals.  Sources include literature, biographical writing, film, art and visual culture. It builds on the knowledge of changing concepts of identity and the construction of the self developed in the Level 2 compulsory courses, Constructing the Self, in a specialist case study at level 3.





In particular it studies the emergence, dominance and persistence of the ‘romantic’ concept of the creative genius, explores whether this concept is under question in contemporary culture and also examines alternative concepts of the creative individual.





It allows students to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of the creative individual, drawing on theories, skills and concepts from disciplines including English literature, art history, social history, cultural studies and sociology, and extends their higher level skills of close reading of a variety of texts including visual texts.





It is available to all students on the programme. For students on the creative writing pathway it provides an option for a creative writing assignment related to the themes of the course founded in historical or cultural research and the opportunity to situate their own creative practice within a cultural tradition.
Module Aims

This module aims to :



  • Develop the student’s knowledge of representations of artists and writers in literature, biographical writing, film and art.


  • Develop the student’s critical and theoretical understanding of the cultural construction of the creative individual


  • Develop the student’s interdisciplinary knowledge and skills, particularly with regard to visual texts


Develop the student’s skills as independent learners and thinkers at level 3
Learning Outcomes

By the conclusion of this module, students  should be able to:



Knowledge and Understanding



  • Demonstrate a wide-ranging knowledge of verbal and visual representations of artists and writers


  • Demonstrate a knowledge of theories and concepts of creativity and the creative individual


Cognitive/Intellectual skills



  • Present a critical and analytical perspective on the knowledge and theories presented in the course


  • Demonstrate an understanding of the active construction of identity within biographical as well as literary texts


Key, transferable and practical skills



  • Demonstrate research skills in locating texts relevant to the course including picture research skills


  • Demonstrate ability in presenting factual research and theoretical and analytical argument in written form with a high standard of academic competence


(For creative writers) Demonstrate the ability to produce a creative text founded on historical research
Module Content

Week 1



Introduction to the course



This session introduces the prevalent stereotype of the creative individual which dominates popular perceptions of artists and writers in the 20th century. It is largely based on the lives of selected individuals in nineteenth and twentieth century Romantic and avant-garde traditions, but has earlier roots. The session also introduces alternative paradigms of the creative individual through selected examples. Students will be introduced to the reading and preparation needed for the course. Selected aspects of these paradigms will be studied in depth in the remainder of the course through examples and detailed case studies. Each student will select at least two individuals for detailed personal study in addition to the shared essential reading and will be expected to contribute relevant material from this reading to each week’s discussion.





Week 2



‘Can Art be Taught?’



This session explores the family background, childhood and youth of creative individuals, and the concept of artistic vocation. It studies the dramatisation of these issues in literary and artistic form. Concepts of the value (or otherwise) of creative training are also examined. Case study: William Blake and Joshua Reynolds.





Week 3



‘Like a long-legged fly upon a stream,/ His mind moved upon silence’ (Yeats)



This session examines presentations of the creative individual and their working processes, particularly the concept of obsession and creativity. Theories of the roots of true creativity in personal experience and emotion are also explored.





Week 4



‘Paintings and babies are too important to be produced by one man’ (Burne-Jones) 



The session examines the sexual relationships of the creative individual, analysing the common stereotype of the creative individual as sexually unconventional. Themes include creative partnership, partner as muse, creativity and celibacy, creativity and homosexuality and creativity and promiscuity. The session also explores attitudes to the relationship between creativity and marriage/family life.  Case studies: Pablo Picasso, Browning, Andrea del Sarto, the Perfect Painter, Gissing, New Grub Street





Week 5



The Individual and the Group



Many modern concepts of artistic quality are premised on originality and individual vision yet artistic success is often based on initial membership of a group with shared aims and styles. This session explores the tensions and conflicts in this paradox with case studies of the Pre-Raphaelites and the Impressionists.






Week 6



‘Starving in a Garrett’



In theories of the avant-garde, and in wider discourses about the arts, financial and public success compromise artistic quality, particularly when success is actively sought.  In this session these concepts are explored with case studies of John Everett Millais of the Pre-Raphaelites and Gissing’s

New Grub Street





Week 7



Bohemian; Dandy: Professional?



This session examines the dress and home/working environment of the creative individual seeing these as statements of self-fashioning and identity. It studies the semiotics of dress and the publicisation of the home or studio. Case studies include James McNeill Whistler, Oscar Wilde, Frederic Leighton and Augustus John.



Week 8



‘The lunatic, the lover and the poet/ Are of imagination all compact’ (Shakespeare)



This session examines the role of self-destructive behaviour, madness and suicide within paradigms of the creative individual. Case studies could include William Blake, Elizabeth Siddal, Vincent Van Gogh, Dora Carrington, or Virginia Woolf.





Week 9



‘Old Mistresses’ (title of book by Parker and Pollock)



This session studies the presentation of women as creators, particularly where discourses of the creative individual are in conflict with those of femininity. Case Studies: Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf. It also examines the gendering of creativity both as ‘masculine’ and as ‘feminine’ and the implications of this for both male and female creators.





Week 10



The invention of the Creative Individual



This session studies pre-nineteenth century artists and writers whose attitudes prefigure those of the Romantic paradigm and the historiography of these individuals. Case studies: Leonardo, Michelangelo and (for contrast) Raphael. Shakespeare has been perceived as a national genius since the mid-eighteenth century, but little is known about his personal biography. We also examine biographies of Shakespeare to assess the extent to which they construct him according to our main paradigm.





Week 11



Contemporary Artists and Writers – Breaking the Romantic Paradigm?



Visual artists studied will include Tracy Emin, Damien Hirst and Grayson Perry. The self-presentation of selected contemporary writers will be studied, the selection determined by student interests.  A final discussion will assess the social role of the Romantic paradigm of the artist in an attempt to understand its longevity.





Christmas Vacation





Week 12








Week 13



Exams/ Assessment








Exams/ Assessment





Week 15



Reading week preparing materials for semester 2 modules








Assessment Deadlines



Essay: 12pm Wednesday 8th December 2010-07-05



Exam: Weeks 13- 14. Exact date TBC.  
Methods of Teaching/Learning

Weekly two hour seminar sessions. 



Seminars will be both tutor and student led.



Students will be expected to source and analyse a proportion of relevant textual and visual material independently with minimal tutor guidance for both seminar discussions and summative assignments.
Selected Texts/Journals

Essential Reading



Pope, R. (2005) Creativity: Theory, History, Practice. Routledge



Blake, W. (Author), Keynes G. (ed.) (1969) Blake, Complete Writings (Oxford Standard Authors) Oxford University Press (Especially annotations to Reynolds’s Discourses)



Browning, R: Poems on artists, particularly Andrea Del Sarto, the Perfect Painter



Gissing, G. (author), Goode, J., (ed.) (2008) New Grub Street (Oxford World Classics) Oxford University Press







Other Essential Resources



National Portrait Gallery: website and  independent visit





Students on this level 3 course are encouraged to read independently and study visual sources about preferred artists and writers in relation to the themes of the course in addition to the essential reading above. More detailed guidance and suggestions will be given at the start of the course.  In particular they are encouraged to engage critically with the different constructions of creative identity between texts on a single individual from different genres and periods.





Recommended Reading



Ackroyd, P. (1998) Blake Vintage (other editions available)



Brenton, H. (1990) ‘Bloody Poetry’ in Plays 2, Methuen Drama



Brown, B. A. (2009) Hero, Madman, Criminal Victim: Artists in Film and Literature Midmarch Artists Press



Dakers, C (1999) The Holland Park Circle: Artists and Victorian Society. Yale University Press



Greenblatt, S. (2004) Will in the World: How Shakespeare became Shakespeare.  Jonathan Cape Ltd.



Kris, E. and Kurz, O. (1979) Legend, Myth and Magic in the Image of the Artist. Yale University Press



Martineau, J., et al. (2003) Shakespeare in Art. Merrell. Catalogue of Exhibition at Dulwich Art Gallery (Section on genre scenes featuring Shakespeare and imaginary portraits of Shakespeare)



Parker, R. and Pollock, G. (1991) Old Mistresses: Women, Art and Ideology Routledge Kegan and Paul (later reprints available)



Peltz, K., Ross, l. and Wedd, K. (2001) Creative Quarters: The Art World in London 1700 – 2000 Merrell



Risdell, M., (ed.) (2009) The Face and Figure of Shakespeare: How ’s Eighteenth Century Sculptors invented a National Hero. Twickenham, Orleans House Gallery



Sarnoff, I. and Sarnoff, F. (2002) Intimate Creativity.  Partners in Love and Art.  Eurospan University Press Group



Schoenbaum, S. (1987) William Shakespeare A Compact Documentary Life Oxford University Press. (other editions available)



Schoenbaum, S. (1991) Shakespeare’s Lives Oxford , Clarendon Press



Storr, A. (1991) The Dynamics of Creation (New Edition) (Penguin Psychology) Penguin Books



Sturgis, A. (2006) Rebels and Martyrs: the Artist in the Nineteenth Century National Gallery (Catalogue of the Exhibition)



Tomalin, C. (2003) Jane Austen: a Life. London, Penguin (Other Editions available



Vasari, G. (1965) Lives of the Artists (Penguin Classics). Harmondsworth, Penguin (later editions available) Especially lives of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael



Wells, S., Shapiro, J., Cooper, T., and Pointon, M., (2006) Searching for Shakespeare. National Portrait Gallery





Recommended films



The Agony and the Ecstasy



Becoming Jane






Shakespeare in Love



Other Recommended resources



Tate: Gallery website and independent visits



Independent visit to Leighton House museum and Art Gallery , Kensington, Charleston, and other museums in artists’ and writers houses are also recommended.
Last Updated
06 Sept  2010 KB