"The Difficult History of Creativity" NWSA Nov 11-14, 2010 Denver, CO

full name / name of organization: 
National Women's Studies Association
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Please send abstracts to Kimberly Latta at kslatta@gmail.com by Feb. 25.

Call for papers for a panel entitled: "The Difficult History of Creativity" for the NWSA Conference
November 11-14, 2010  Denver, CO

This panel will fall under the rubric of the fifth topic, "The Critical and the Creative." Under this topic heading, the conference organizers ask the following questions: "How might the creative allow us to intervene in dominant/hegemonic stories and histories? How do more traditional art forms (i.e., painting, music, literature, dance) and newer genres (i.e.,digital technologies) offer an important archive of memory and site of resistance? How do marginalized groups plumb history's silences in the creative realm?"

The panel I am organizing will broach one of the "difficult conversations" that feminists need to hold by suggesting that, before we can fully accommodate "creativity" and "creative expression" to feminist politics, we need to historicize the concept of creativity itself. The idea of the individual human being as a "creative" agent, empowered to imagine and produce things never before envisioned in the world, is relatively recent and profoundly masculinist, steeped as it is in ancient myths that ascribe active, shaping power to men alone. It may have first emerged in England in the middle of the seventeenth-century. Since then many women writers have challenged its masculinist bias through theoretical and practical contributions, but very often their work reinforces that bias, either because it perpetuates the myth of a patriarchal Creator from whom and towards whom all action runs, or because it endorses essentialist notions of femininity that dehistoricize and naturalize the social construction of sex and gender. It is also not surprising to find that nearly every scholarly history of the idea of creativity completely ignores women's theoretical and practical participation in the autonomous production of the New. The organizer of this panel invites papers that address alterative histories of the concept of creativity in diverse cultures across time and geography, and is particularly interested in essays that address the following, broad questions:

• What durable, gendered schemes of perception and appreciation structure the way that women and men have approached and evaluated creative, symbolic action?
• What kind of creative action would reveal and disarm the androcentric, cultural unconscious that continues to foster the characterization of women's creativity as less "productive," less serious and less valuable than men's?
• What kind of symbolic/economic production can durably resist the durable effects of living in a relentlessly androcentric society, in which the means of production both economic and symbolic continue to be dominated by white, male, and heteronormative powers?
• What different kinds of questions about the history of creativity and women need to be asked in cultures that are not dominated by white men, but rather by men of different racial and ethnic groups?

Please send abstracts to Kimberly Latta at kslatta@gmail.com by Feb. 25.