Creativity is getting new attention in today’s America––along the way revealing fault lines in U.S. culture. Surveys show people overwhelmingly seeing creativity as both a desirable trait and a work enhancement, yet most say they just aren’t creative. Like beauty and wealth, creativity seems universally desired but insufficiently possessed. Businesses likewise see innovation as essential to productivity and growth, but can’t bring themselves to risk new ideas. Even as one’s "inner artist" is hyped by a booming self-help industry, creative education dwindles in U.S. schools.
Anxious Creativity: When Imagination Fails examines this conceptual mess, while focusing on how America’s current edginess dampens creativity in everyone. Written in an engaging and accessible style, Anxious Creativity draws on current ideas in the social sciences, economics, and the arts. Discussion centers on the knotty problem of reconciling the expressive potential in all people with the nation’s tendency to reward only a few. Fortunately, there is some good news, as scientists, economists, and creative professionals have begun advocating new ways of sharing and collaboration. Building on these prospects, the book argues that America’s innovation crisis demands a rethinking of individualism, competition, and the ways creativity is rewarded.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Imagination in Crisis
Part I. Creative Subjects
1. Anxious Moments: Anticipation Meets Uncertainty
2. Creative You: Self-Help to the Rescue
3. The Neoliberal Imagination: When More is Not Enough
Part II. Creative Differences
4. Everyday Creativity: Are We All Artists Now?
5. Creative Differences: How to Raise a Genius
6. Divine Madness: The Crazy Artist Myth
Part III. Creative Industries
7. Factories of Knowledge: Why Schools Kill Creativity
8. Industries of Culture: Masterpieces vs. Dream Machines
9. Creative Economies: "Big Magic" or Empty Promises?
Part IV. Creative Societies
10. Becoming Creative: The One and the Many
11. Distributed Creativity: Toward a Sharing Economy
12. Imaginary Worlds: Utopia and Virtuality
David Trend is Professor at the University of California, Irvine. His books include Elsewhere in America: The Crisis of Belonging in Contemporary Culture (2016), Worlding (2012), and The End of Reading (2010). Honored as a Getty Scholar, he is a former editor of the journals Afterimage and Socialist Review.