Creativity and Genius

Creativity is an imperative that aggressively structures our society. The idea of a creative per­son­ality dates back to the eighteenth century and originally serves to valorize a societal margin, the sphere of art production. The Junior Research Group Creativity and Genius attempts to re­con­struct how this idea could become a paradigm for whole industries and an obligatory standard for individual subjectivity.

The Junior Research Group at a glance

Place of researchLMU Munich
AssociationInternational Doctoral Program
„MIMESIS: Munich Doctoral Program for Literature and the Arts“
Project duration2017 to 2022
Group leaderDr. Jan Niklas Howe
Contact the group leader
Further informationWebsite Creativity and Genius

The Expansion of the Aesthetic

Media, entertainment, design, architecture, consul­ting, public relations and research are creative industries; moreover, creativity is a key concept for self-fashioning in social net­works, lonely heart ads or job applications. Theoretical conceptions of universal cre­ativ­ity, ranging from “aesthetic regime” and “aesthetic capitalism” to a “regime of crea­ti­vity”, all interpret it as an expansion of aesthetic practices and preferences to non-aesthetic areas of life. This interpretation poses three main challenges to the Humanities: to identify these practices, to contextualize them historically, and to establish creativity as an object of theory.

Resource and Superlative

The Research Group takes as its point of departure the observation that 20th century creativity dis­course relies on rhetorical strategies and poetic techniques first es­tab­lished in 18th century aesthetics of genius. In both historical con­cep­tu­al­iza­tions, creative potential fea­tures the same remarkable con­tra­dic­tion: it describes, on the one hand, a super­lative of extraordinary, singular individuality, and, on the other hand, a universally accessible resource.

Portrait photo: Dr. Jan Niklas Howe

The format of the Junior Research Group enables us to raise an innovative interdisciplinary question while profiting from an excellent disciplinary constellation at LMU Munich.

Dr. Jan Niklas Howe

The Research Group attempts to establish a first link between literary scholarship on genius and inter­disciplinary research on creativity.

It cooperates closely with the International Doctoral Program MIMESIS: Munich Doctoral Program for Literature and the Arts.

Further cooperations

New York UniversityNew York, USA
Columbia UniversityNew York, USA
Free University BerlinBerlin, Germany
University of International Business and Economics BeijingBeijing, China