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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Notes on Creativity in Scholarship: First set of Exercises

1) Extravagant interpretation. Come up with an extravagant or exaggerated interpretation of a text. You won't be using it directly, but perhaps there is some seed in this interpretation that is suggestive of something else. Don't worry about being wrong in this stage, since the point is to be a bit "wrong."

2) Uncreative interpretations. Make a list of "standard interpretations." That is, way in which people habitually interpret certain texts. This would be like Flaubert's dictionary of received ideas. Here the idea is not to interpret texts creatively, but to explore what the standard interpretations are.  Once you get a feel for those, then you know what you are up against.  These interpretations aren't necessarily wrong, but they have become a bit stale.

3) Clichés. Along a similar line, think of clichés of literary criticism, like the idea that there is "anxiety" about something and texts are symptomatic of this anxiety. Is there a way of making something creative out of this, or some other, cliché? Invent your own cliché. What if the common method of interpreting were astrological. What would result in overturning this habit.

4) Comparison. Compare two texts that don't seem to have anything in common. The furthest apart they [seemingly] are, the better.

5) Make up your own. Make up your own exercise.  Make sure it doesn't duplicate one of mine. That would be uncreative.

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