Grasping the Ever-Elusive Definition of Creativity

Isn’t it ironic that creativity is so often defined and understood in such un-creative terms? Yes, it’s the production of something new, an extension of our imagination, and the key to innovation, but why limit creativity’s creativity with such a simplistic definition? Creativity is also excess, waste, productive, inspiring, threatening, beautiful, grotesque, and so forth. Creativity is, in my opinion, what straddles and subverts and undermines—or in Jacque Derrida’s terms, deconstructs—the binaries that permeate our lives: excessive/limited, inspired/threatened, productive/wasteful, beautiful/grotesque, attractive/repulsive, masculine/feminine, life/death, and the list goes on.


This past fall, we (the second-year SASAH students) immersed ourselves in these more expansive definitions of creativity while exploring the history of theory and criticism in our course with Dr. Joel Faflak (SASAH’s Director). We asked questions such as: Where do creativity and imagination come from and how do they emerge in individuals? How do they shape us as individuals and how do they affect how we respond to one another? How have they contributed to a society’s progress and how have they produced disaster? And from these reflections, we produced work that challenged the often not-so-creative definition of creativity and allowed our imaginations to flow beyond and without limits.


Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 6.58.52 PMThese ideas undoubtedly began to influence not only my work in SASAH, but also in my other course and, most importantly, in my extracurricular endeavours. As Editor-In-Chief of the Arts and Humanities Students’ Council’s publications, I lead the production of Symposium, what has now become a 34-page magazine to showcase and celebrate the creativity of students in the faculty of Arts and Humanities. Nearly a hundred submissions were received, and then narrowed down to final curation of pieces that reflected creativity in all its excess, contradiction, and beauty through poetry, short fiction, scripts, informal essays, and visual art. Inside, you can find pieces by three second-year SASAH students: Rachael DiMenna’s reflection on creativity as waste in “The Expiration of Art” (page 20), Dessa Hayes’ creative writing piece on the struggle to produce creativity in “The Not-So-Secret Life of the University Writer” (page 16), and Danielle Brideau’s expression of creativity through abstract paintings (pages 1 and 20). Their pieces, and much more, can be found here: docs/symposium.

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