The Creativity Complex: Art, Tech, and the Seduction of an Idea

Creativity Complex Book Cover

The Creativity Complex: Art, Tech, and the Seduction of an Idea

Shannon Steen
Berkeley Book Chats

With its associations of brilliance and achievement, "creativity" is a seductive concept — variously conceived as a shield against conformity, a channel for innovation across the arts, sciences, technology, and education, and a mechanism for economic revival and personal success. 

But creativity has not always evoked these ideas. In The Creativity Complex (Michigan, 2023), Shannon Steen (Theater, Dance & Performance Studies) traces the history of how creativity has come to mean the things it now does, and explores the ethical implications of how we use this term today for both the arts and the social world more broadly. Richly researched, the book explores how creativity has been invoked in arenas as varied as Enlightenment debates over the nature of cognition, Victorian-era intelligence research, the Cold War technology race, contemporary K-12 education, and modern electoral politics. 

Ultimately, The Creativity Complex asks how our ideas about creativity are bound up with those of self-fulfillment, responsibility, and the individual, and how these might seduce us into joining a worldview and even a set of social imperatives that we might otherwise find troubling.

Steen is joined by David Henkin (History). After a brief discussion, they respond to questions from the audience.