Cultural History Seminar: US Military Investments in the Concept of Creativity 1945-1965 (UU)20 apr 2017
Van 11:30 - 12:45uur
Dr Bregje van Eekelen (Department of History, Erasmus School for History, Culture and Communication) will give a talk with the title Creative Intelligence and the Cold War: US Military Investments in the Concept of Creativity 1945-1965.
This article investigates the Cold War entanglements of the concept of “creativity” with the U.S. military. It recounts, first, how knowledge about the concept emerged and circulated after World War II, and how the field of creativity studies was funded and institutionalized. It then looks more particularly at how the military, by engaging psychologists to stir the creativity of its personnel, became a vital site for the production of knowledge about thinking outside the box, and asks what, in such a regimented context, creative thinking – as something to be defined, measured, and stimulated – was supposed to accomplish or overcome. Creativity emerged on the geopolitical radar, in terms of the acquisition of creative thinking skills, in terms of attempts to “think the unthinkable” (atomic futures), and in terms of the detection of creative citizens who until that point had been overlooked. Creative, divergent thinking garnered a renewed urgency with the Sputnik shock, which spawned the anxious realization that conformist practices in knowledge production would not put an American on the moon. Between 1945 and 1965, the concept of creativity thus came to be framed as a matter of national security and an object of geopolitical concern. I argue that the ensuing traffic in knowledge between Cold War academic and military contexts has been constitutive of present-day understandings of creative, undisciplined thought.
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