Myth and Creativity: A New Perspective on Teaching in the Humanities

Dr. Michael Johnson
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This participatory workshop examines the theory behind a unique undergraduate course. Founded in 1967, the Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College offers the oldest Masters degree program, and the only undergraduate minor degree program, in Creative Studies.

Myth and Creativity explores the reciprocity between the formal study of mythology and the empirical investigation of creativity: classical myths deepen the basic paradigm of current research into creativity, while this paradigm offers a new perspective on the ancient stories.

The principles, prototypes, patterns, and practices of mythology have their respective counterparts in four major aspects of creativity research: press, person, process, and product. For instance, the Narcissus myth exemplifies the environmental factors ('press') that do not support creativity. After his fall, Oedipus shifts significantly on the spectrum of criteria for a creative person. A major model for the creative problem-solving process resonates with many aspects of Hercules' career as culture hero. The Trojan horse was a device that also meets the essential criteria for a truly creative product.

This workshop will: outline the design and methodology of the course ("the eight P's"), invite the audience to participate in sample course activities, and provide resources for further investigation of the topic.

Keywords: Classical Greek mythology, creativity research, undergraduate course, participatory activities
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies, Knowledge, Teaching and Learning
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Michael Johnson

Chair, Modern and Classical Languages Department, Buffalo State College

Graduate Certificate of Education, London University Institute of Education, 1972. PhD (Honors) Classics, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1982. For 30 years has taught courses in Latin, Greek, Classical Mythology and Drama, plus various literature offerings in Humanities and Honors programs. Also 10 years teaching scientific etymology in summer Upward Bound (college preparatory) program. Over 150 presentations and publications in various fora — including the American Classical League Institute, the Society for Biblical Literature (at Cambridge University), the H.G. Wells Society (at London University), the Creative Problem Solving Institute (in Buffalo, NY), the International Medieval Congress (at Kalamazoo and Leeds), and also at conferences of the Children's Literature Association, the Popular Culture Association, the Society for Science and Literature, the Mythopoeic Society, and the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. Current projects include research on Salvador Dali, C.S. Lewis, reasons for the demise of Star Trek, and way too much departmental curriculum revision.

Ref: H05P0831