FACS 1900 C
Arts and Ideas
Instructor: Robert Gill
Room: ACW 206 for lecture, ACE 006 for tutorial
Time: Friday 11:30 to 1:30 PM for lecture, 2:30 to 3:30 for tutorial
September 26, 2008
Today’s agenda: answering questions on the assignment, screening Freestyle, the Art of
Rhyme (look at it keeping in mind five key concepts, culture, language, process, space,
experience.) Then a brief discussion of the article for today that didn’t make it into the
If we need to spend the entire course looking at nothing but two or three articles, we will
do that. I don’t believe in forcing materials you don’t understand on you and moving
forward anyway. We will keep gauging where we go on the basis of that. Being in a state
of panic and stress is not the right condition for learning.
There is only so much we can do to guide you in doing this assignment. “Where is the
library?” That question is an important question but you need to figure out how to answer
for yourself. “What is an essay, how do I write an essay?” is also a question we won’t be
able to address in the course. We have to assume you came into this process knowing
how to do that.
If you have substantial problems with writing, grab the bull by the horns now, deal with
that. You have to be very proactive about finding the materials to learn how to write an
essay. There are resources at university to help you with that. Find those resources and
work with them. Do it now. These places get booked up very much in advance. I will
bring up the info on the board at the break.
Let’s go through the assignment step by step. The goal of this essay is to get you thinking
about creativity in a critical way. Creativity is not just there. You don’t already know
what the word means. Creativity can be understood from a number of different
perspectives. Sociology, anthropology, psychology have their own perspectives.
In sociology we look at creativity in a collective or cultural way. Find an article from one
perspective, or even from a multidisciplinary perspective, that helps you begin to think
about creativity in a critical way. Find an article that will help you write an essay about
what is creativity and how does this author understand creativity. Your essay will be an
account that shows us that you read the article and have been able to identify the
framework that the author is using.
If the author is a sociologist, what are the major points they are trying to establish about
creativity? If you are addressing creativity in museums, you are not going to be writing
about Van Gogh as a romantic genius, who relied on his inner resources to be a creative
1 person. You will write about how a museum does or does not foster creativity. What does
this author’s focus on museums tell us about creativity from that perspective? You’re not
all writing the same essay. We’re expecting that you will come up with lots of different
answers to the question what is creativity.
In the new year in your groups you will come together as a group and using the resources
that you have as a group, you will do a presentation about what you found out about
creativity. Exploring a space on campus as a group. Right now you’re trying to
understand what one author is saying about creativity. There are many perspectives and
many views on the same things.
An artist will tell you something very different about creativity than a business person.
Everybody is using the word creativity, but in different ways. What would a business
person say about creativity in comparison to an artist? Tone will be a big issue. Business:
how can creativity be used to add value to a company or a product. An artist is interested
in creativity but not in the same way. You are tying to understand what is the vantage
point of this author on creativity and describe that.
Another question, what do I mean by engaging with the material? Rather than simply
reading it and reciting its points, you will tell us how you responded to the article. You
are engaged with something, you feel connected to something, what is that connection?
Engagement with the material is about not only understanding what the author is saying
but also having a response to it. What did you think about the ideas, how did you feel, did
the article help you have a better understanding of the ideas? Did you feel like you can
enhance your own creative process? If it doesn't do that for you, you need to find another
article. If you hate your article, find another one. If the article is not useful, find
something that you can engage with, that you are interested in. You have to find an article
that you can in some way identify with and engage with.
Make sure today that you have established some agreement with your TA about what you
are doing. If your article is not suitable, if it’s not academic, if you don’t understand it,
then your TA will say, find something else.
750 to 1000 words, doubles spaced, Times New Roman. For this assignment stick with
the three part format. An introduction in which you will establish for the reader what your
essay is about. I would recommend two thirds of the page for the introduction. The intro
is very important, it is saying, “I know what this essay I am giving you is about.” The
introduction reveals the structure of the essay.
“In this essay I will discuss Joe Smith’s article on creativity in museums. JS believes that
museums are not doing a very good job of fostering creativity. He also has an idea about
how they could work better. In conclusion I will discus some potential ways I could
establish creativity in a museum if I was running it.”
2 We want something very straightforward, identifying the basic arguments in the essay. In
part 2 you will elaborate what you said in part 1. How is the author making his argument?
What are some examples of the argument? You may find there is one study the author has
looked at about a special program set up in museums for toddlers. When they observed
them in this space, this is the kind of creative things toddlers do, how does the museum
support that creativity. You are giving us a sense of how your author is thinking about
creativity. You can’t give us the whole thing, you can only give us the barebones of what
the author said and some examples, what was the tone like, what kind of points did the
You can figure out the basic structure of that person’s argument and then reproduce that.
At every step what you’re trying to do you is answering this question, what is creativity
from this person’s perspective. Have this question next to you throughout writing the
paper. That is your reality check. You’re off track if you’re not clarifying that.
In the conclusion you want to end on a more informal note, what did you learn from this
article that helps you in your own creative practice. One way to do it is to ask questions.
How does this process actually help you begin to ask more questions rather than
answering question? “Reading this article left me with some things that I don’t
understand and I’m intrigued now to find out more about creativity in museums.” Ending
with a sense of process is a better way than saying, “now I feel I have learned everything
about creativity in museums.”
Pick something more positive, that gives you something to move forward with. If you
pick something negative, you will be in conflict with it throughout the writing of the
paper. It would work better for most of you if you engaged with something that was more
positive, more affirming, added something to your creativity.
I provided bibliographic information there. Do not use cover pages, just give us info
about yourself at the top of the first page. No paper covers, no plastic covers, please save
The citation information is there. In the section called introduction I’ve said use the
format of this example. (Gardner, 1993: 23) Any assignments improperly done in terms
of citation will be returned to you and you will have to redo them.
You will have a discussion with TAs about how the paper will be evaluated. Given
workload issues, it’s difficult to give each student extensive comments on their paper. It
would be ideal, but time consuming and TAs are not paid enough to do it. The first page
will have some comments, then they will be written in abbreviated form. CLR will mean
clarify. DEV will mean develop. We will flag problems that we see on the first pages of
the writing. The TAs will discuss those overall things with you as a group. We will have
a discussion with you about general problems.
---do we need to cite things the author cites himself, such as another author?
3 Very good question. let’s say John Smith cites the work of another scholar. Smith talks
about the work of Johnson, this is what she is talking about. You provide the same
citation, you indicate that your author is referring to this other person’s ideas. Jane
Johnson as quoted by John Smith, page number. Always indicate if it’s somebody else’s
idea embedded in the article.
There are a few ways you can search. In the general catalogue of the library you can
search under creativity and get hundreds of references. I tend to do research at the
beginning very broadly and I want to know what the section of books on creativity looks
like in the library. I go to the section on creativity and look at the books.
Next way of doing it is to go into Catalogue and do a keyword search, type in “creativity
and dance.” You will get materials that connect creativity and dance. If you find that
there is a Library of Congress heading for creativity, you can type it in the subject
heading. Subject headings are set up according to the Library of Congress system. Try
searching in creativity and see what comes up in terms of subject heading.
Another option, when you are on the library homepage you can start looking into the
journal databases. You can start looking through the online journal databases. Academics
publish articles in journals as part of their work. There is Cultural Studies, The Journal of
Cultural Studies, Topia. Academic publish in journals and those journals are organized in
database form so if you want to do research in fine arts you can go to a database called
When you get into that database search engine, you can type key words about what you
are interested in and it will give you listings of potentially all the people who have
published articles on those topics. You have to use different strategies to find the
material. Get your feet a little bit wet in finding this material. Find the York library home
page, explore it. There are resources in the library to help you find information, the
reference desk will work for that.
Write the assignment from your perspective, you will use I and write in the present tense.
“When I read this article, this is how it helped me understand creativity better.” You can
show us your opinion, but the primary emphasis is what you found out from the author.
Don’t just say, “I read this article, I didn't like it, I couldn’t understand what the author
was saying, that’s bad.” You can say what your position is but remain primarily focused
on what the author is telling. What is this author helping you understand that increases
your understanding of what creativity is.
---size of the article?
Academic essays are 20-25 pages, some are 18, some shorter. Pick something that has a
bit of meat to it. An 18-25 page article, an academic article. Those tend to have a certain
length. You must have approached your TA with it to determine whether it’s acceptable
4 Video presentation and discussion. Freestyle, largely self explanatory. If you had to
define language on the test in reference to this film, what would you say about language?
---the rappers set up new terms and meanings that refer to their immediate thoughts.
You are describing the language in the film. That’s one approach. I’m asking you
---language is an expression of their energy and experience.
Another level, we’re not there yet.
---one guy talks about spontaneity in any space they are in.
Language as a vessel, the idea of expressing something. Also a sense of connection
within that vessel.
---language has a tonal quality, it affects people’s responses.
What is the response about? How does it work?
---it’s a freeing atmosphere, they are focused on being free. They can come across as
violent or negative but are being free.
Language being about freedom. Also something else.
---it’s like jazz or action painting. When you look at it after you see things that you don’t
notice when you’re doing it.
Language is about connecting, language is about sociality. It is fundamentally about
connecting people together. How does hip hop reflect on this connecting of people?
---it started in the Bronx at a particular time, it’s an evolving language.
Within this community there is history. Language always has this historical quality to it.
We can find a historical dimension to it, definitely.
---by creating different definitions for words, by inventing words, the hip hop culture is
closing itself off, they’re separating themselves in order to connect.
Maybe language sometimes has a quality of closure to it.
---how fast they were going, language itself wasn’t what was being conveyed, it was
something deeper, the human consciousness, connecting beyond words.