Mind and Memory: Explorations of Creativity in the Arts and Sciences
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English 301, "Mind and Memory: Explorations of Creativity in the Arts and Sciences," Spring 1996, M-W 2:55-4:10 p.m. (Lectures on Monday, 2:55-4:10 p.m.) Creativity is the attribute of the mind that enables us to make new combinations from often-familiar information, to perceive analogies and other linkages in seemingly unlike elements, to seek for syntheses. As is true of all learning, creativity is dependent upon memory—a memory that is genetic and social as well as personal and experiential. This course will explore the nature of creativity in science and art, indicating the differing requirements for discovery in the disparate disciplines while demonstrating the commonality that underlies the creative process and binds (say) physicist or mathematician to poet, composer, visual artist The opening sessions will be concerned with the crucial role of memory in learning, discovery, and spiritual insight for all humans, and will make reference to recent scientific research into the complex nature of the human brain, including its intimate connections with the rest of the body. Following this introduction, the course will rely on weekly guests from as many disciplines in the arts and sciences as possible, faculty members who will discuss (for interested undergraduates, whatever field they may be preparing to enter) the process underlying their research, or their work as creative or performing artists. The guests will be asked to speak of their goals, the problems they have faced, and what they have learned from their disappointments as well as their achievements. Members of the course are encouraged to enroll in another course or to be engaged in an activity (research or artistic production or performance) in which the insights gained in this class can be applied or tested. To further abet the active participation so necessary to learning, students will be asked to keep a journal, one that summarizes their understanding of, and response to, each presentation by a guest lecturer—a journal that will serve as a continuing record of their experiences as members of the course, and that will become the basic resource for an essay, to be submitted at the semester’s end, that will give their carefully considered assessment of the applicability of what they have learned in this course to that second course or activity, to their own mental processes, and to the future they propose for themselves.
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Lectures by: Roald Hoffmann (chemist and poet); Paul West (novelist); Kenneth McClane (poet and essayist); Timothy DeVoogd (research psychologist); Diane Ackerman (poet and naturalist); Persis Drell (physicist); Vinay Ambegaokar (physicist); Steven Stucky (composer); Francis Moon (mechanical and aerospace engineer and sculptor); Byron Suber (dancer and choreographer); Victor Kord (artist); A.R. Ammons (poet) and James McConkey (writer); Thomas Eisner (chemical ecologist).
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Creativity; Arts and Sciences; Cornell University English Department
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