Madness and Creativity: The Psychological Link
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What is creativity? Is there a relationship between states of mind and a fertile imagination? What are the psychological mechanisms involved in the human imagination, urging us to explore new avenues, to see what others have not seen, to create what no one has yet created? Many of the world's greatest writers, artists, and thinkers have struggled with abnormal psychological conditions. We'll explore these conditions and how they affect creativity. We'll learn to identify and understand these conditions and search for links between them and the urge to create. We'll also study the normal mind and how it functions in both mundane and creative ways. This work serves as an introduction to further study in psychology.
This program is a serious interdisciplinary study of psychology, literature, the arts, imagination, and the creative impulse, explored through various modes of inquiry, including documentaries and films. Many of our readings combine art theory with scientific psychological case studies by writers such as Sacks and Ramachadran. Our imaginative literature includes pieces by Gogol, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Poe, Styron, Plath, and others describing abnormal psychological conditions, as well as articles dealing with related issues, such as shamanism, which present varied approaches to mental illness at different periods and from different cultural perspectives.
In both quarters, assignments include study of abnormal psychology in an interactive way in conjunction with our textbook, weekly written seminar commentaries, and discussion. We will respond to our chosen topics by channeling the imagination with a variety of creative projects. Based on readings assigned for seminar and on the films viewed, you will write a major argumentative essay in fall working through drafts to polish your writing skills. In winter term—and building on fall term foundational work in psychology and literature—you'll write a research paper on a topic relevant to our study. You'll also produce a professional digital poster designed to convey some significant aspect of your research for a final-week poster exhibit.
Finally, you'll participate in projects designed to explore and stimulate personal creativity, including mask making, beading, and pysanky—the traditional Ukrainian art of wax-resist egg decorating. Guest speakers provide additional workshops and lectures in various artistic modalities. We take a winter field trip to the Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of Glass. In all our activities, you will ample opportunities to explore your own creativity and imagination.
This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:
psychology, education, literary studies, world literature, cultural studies, and the arts.
Credits per quarter
- Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
$145 in fall for workshop supplies, and art supplies (including beading workshop at Shipwreck Beads); $122 in winter for entry to Tacoma Glass Museum, plus workshop supplies and art supplies.
Class Size: 46
100% Reserved for Freshmen
Scheduled for: Day
Located in: Olympia