Thesis Title

Reflections on the History of Creativity

Graduation Date

Spring 2001

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Science

Program Name



This paper attempts to survey the literature on creativity as a concept and field of study. Sources document the creative activities of humans from pre­history through the present day. Man's interest in studying and understanding creativity is a fairly recent phenomenon. This process of exploration and analysis in the last 300 years are also covered.

The origins of creative thought in humans can be traced to the Ice Age that occurred from 100,000 to 10,000 years ago. Suddenly people started interacting in new ways, creating tools, rituals and artwork that had never been seen before. The creative powers were attributed outside man. It was believed that the gods inspired a select group of people to carry out creative tasks. This belief was held in cultures around the world.

The European Renaissance was the first time that individuals were given credit for their creative abilities. These people were tightly controlled by society but still managed to make dramatic changes in their respective fields of art,science, music, philosophy and literature.

The next significant period in the story of creativity is the Enlightenment. There was a broad movement in Europe and America promoting the rights of individuals, the right to free thinking.

During the Industrial Revolution, the elite in society sought to control the general public by creating social programs and applying the scientific method to the study of social dynamics. This was the early emergence of creativity as a subject for study.

During the 20th Century researchers from many fields related creativity was hard to analyze, to break down. Psychologists, social scientists and educators initially assumed that there was a relationship between intelligence and creativity. Later studies allowed contemporary researchers to separate creativity from the intelligence quotient. In spite of all the scientific analysis, the idea that creativity is a product of divine inspiration still persists today.

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