Dr. Alex E. Blazer Course Site Assignments Description
Materials Assignments Policies Schedule


Hungry Artists and Exquisite Corpses

Liberal Studies 310: Creativity, Winter 2008

Section 01 MWF 1:00-1:50PM, 1110 Mackinac Hall

Section 04 MWF 9:00-9:50AM, 1110 Mackinac Hall


Professor: Alex E. Blazer Phone: 331-3373
Office and Mailbox: 123 Lake Huron Hall Email: blazera@gvsu.edu
Office Hours: MWF 10:00-10:50AM Web: http://faculty.gvsu.edu/blazera/


Course Description


Man Ray: James Joyce (1922)


Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.

—James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man


Liberal Studies 310 constitutes an examination of human creativity and the nature of the creative process. It explores characteristics of the creative process in artistic and scientific endeavors. This section will examine 1) the creative process of specific artists and scientists (James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, Joseph Cornell, Robert Rauschenberg, James Watson), 2) the creative process of art movements (Dada, Surrealism, and the avant-garde), and 3) the relationships between art and psyche (unconscious, manic-depression, and psychosis). We will investigate how the creative process is informed by psychological, social, and existential concerns. Be forewarned: this is a challenging course that requires more thought, reading, and effort than one might expect from the generic catalogue description. Moreover, be aware that we will discuss sensitive topics such as mental disorders. You will be expected to read and study the material, attend and participate in class regularly, turn assignments in on time, and approach assignments with intellectual curiosity, educational investment, and academic honesty. Assignments include a discussion board response, two short papers, and a research project including annotated bibliography and presentation. Note that this course is part of the Creativity Theme.


Course Materials


required (GVSU Bookstore or Amazon.com )

Arnheim, The Genesis of a Painting: Picasso's Guernica

Jamison, Touched with Fire

Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Shelley, Frankenstein

Watson, The Double Helix

required (online)

course packet and articles

recommended (GVSU Bookstore or Amazon.com)

Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th ed.


Assignments and Grade Distribution


discussion board response and informal presentation, 5%

In 2-3 pages, you will respond to one of the texts by discussing idea and theme on Blackboard, and on the day the work will be discussed you will informally present your response and raise issues for class discussion.

2 short papers , 25% each

In the two 4-5 page papers, you will be prompted to discuss an issue of the creative process in a texts or set of texts covered in class.

research project, 45%

In the final 8-10 page research paper (30%), you will investigate the creative process of an artist or scientist. Also included in the project are a 15 source annotated bibliography (10%) and a 10 minute presentation (5%).


Course Policies


Class Preparation and Participation

I expect you to come to class having read, annotated, and reviewed the assigned reading. Moreover, you should prepare at least two comments and two questions. We're going to be working with challenging works of literature; therefore, we'll all benefit from sharing our ideas and questions. If I feel that you're not participating because you're not keeping up with the reading, I will give a pop quiz.

Office Hours and Professor Email

I encourage you to stop by my office hours to discuss any aspect of the course, literature, or life. I'm happy to answer minor questions such as due dates over email, but I prefer face-to-face conversations for more substantive topics like papers and exams. Please use email etiquette.

Blackboard and Student Email

We will be using Blackboard for assignments and Netmail for class communication. It is your responsibility to update your passwords so you can use Blackboard and check your email for possible course related messages. I suggest that you forward your university email to your private email account (or vice versa) and review both my Blackboard Basics and IT's Blackboard Help.


There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every absence beyond six days. Therefore, missing seven class periods will result in a one letter final grade deduction and missing ten classes will result in automatic failure of the course. I do not excuse any class missed beyond the six days, even if you are ill or participating in extracurricular activities. Therefore, I suggest you use your six days both cautiously and wisely; and make sure you sign the attendance sheets. Habitual tardies or consistently leaving class early will be treated as absences. You can check your attendance online by looking for your course number and the last four digits of your student identification number.

MLA Style

Formal assignments should adhere to the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. Formal papers and take-home exams require MLA style while in-class exams, discussion board responses, informal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted. One-third of a letter grade will be deducted from a formal paper or take-home exam for problems in each of the following four categories: 1) header, heading, and title, 2) margins, font, and line-spacing, and 3) quotation and citation format. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by using the checklist on the MLA style handout.

Late Assignments

There will be a one letter assignment grade deduction per day (not class period) for any assignment that is turned in late. I sparingly give short extensions if you request one for a valid need; however you must make the request at least one day before the assignment is due. I will inform you via email if I cannot open an electronically submitted assignment; however, your assignment will be considered late until you submit it in a file I can open. I neither read nor grade assignments that are turned in more than five days late for whatever reason, be it extension or computer error. Failing to submit (or resubmit) an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade within five days (not class periods) of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course. Failing to submit (or resubmit) a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course.


Do not do it. Section 223.01 of the Student Code states: "Any ideas or material taken from another source for either written or oral presentation must be fully acknowledged. Offering the work of someone else as one's own is plagiarism. The language or ideas taken from another may range from isolated formulas, sentences, or paragraphs to entire articles copied from books, periodicals, speeches or the writings of other students. The offering of materials assembled or collected by others in the form of projects or collections without acknowledgment also is considered plagiarism. Any student who fails to give credit in written or oral work for the ideas or materials that have been taken from another is guilty of plagiarism." As a general rule, I fail plagiarized assignments, and so plagiarists usually fail the course as well.

Failure of the Course

There are three ways to fail the course: 1) failing to regularly attend class, 2) plagiarizing, 3) failing an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade, be it from poor quality, lateness of submission, or a combination of poor quality and lateness.


The deadline withdrawing from a class is Friday, February 29 at 5:00PM.

Disabilities Support Center

If there is any student in this class who has special needs because of a learning, physical, or other ability, please contact me and Disabilities Support Services (DSS) at 616-331-2490. Furthermore, if you have a disability and think you will need assistance evacuating this classroom and/or building in an emergency situation, please make me aware so I can develop a plan to assist you.

Center for Writing

The Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors provides appointment, walk-in, and instant messenger assistance for planning, drafting, revising, and editing papers.


Course Schedule


This schedule is subject to change, so listen in class and check online for possible revisions.


Week 1
M, 1-7

Coleridge, "Kubla Khan" (online)

Ferlinghetti, [Constantly risking absurdity] (online)

Merwin, "The Unwritten" (online)

Stevens, "Of Modern Poetry" (online)


W, 1-9
Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1-89)
F, 1-11
Joyce, continued (89-151)
Week 2
M, 1-14

Joyce, continued (151-224)

Joyce, criticism (Norton Critical Edition)

In Class Activity: Annotating Scholarly Criticism

W, 1-16
Joyce, criticism, concluded
F, 1-18

Kafka, "A Hunger Artist" (online)

Week 3
M, 1-21

Mee, Hotel Cassiopeia (online)

Short Paper Prompt

W, 1-23
Cornell, art and criticism (online)
F, 1-25

Cornell, concluded

Week 4
M, 1-28

Arnheim, The Genesis of a Painting

In Class Activity: Picasso's Guernica

W, 1-30

No Class: Snow Day

F, 2-1

Tomkins, "Marcel Duchamp" (online)

Week 5
M, 2-4

Tomkins, " Robert Raushenberg" (online)

Short Paper 1 Due

W, 2-6

Piirto, "The Creative Process in Poets" (online)

Bloom, from Anxiety of Influence (online)

F, 2-8

Freud, "Creative Writers and Daydreaming" (online)

Kristeva, from Revolution in Poetic Language (online)

Week 6

M, 2-11

Bigsby, "Definitions, Statements and Manifestoes" (online)

Bigsby, "The Dada Essence" (online)

Tzara, "Seven Dada Manifestoes" (online)

Tzara, "Note on Poetry" (online)

W, 2-13

Hopkins, "Art and Anti-Art" (online)

F, 2-15

Breton, "Manifesto of Surrealism"

Breton, "The Automatic Message"

Eluard, "Poetry's Evidence"

Film Screening, Un Chien Andalou [warning: graphic violence]

Week 7
M, 2-18

Dali, "Reality and Surreality"

Dali, "Surrealist Objects"

Dali, "The Conquest of the Irrational"

Dali, "The Object as Revealed in Surrealist Experiment

W, 2-20

Short Paper 2 Prompt

In Class Activity: A Book of Surrealist Games

F, 2-22
No Class: Professor at Conference
Week 8
M, 2-25

Jamison, Touched with Fire (1-100)

W, 2-27

Jamison, continued (101-90)

F, 2-29

Jamison, concluded (191-270)

Drop Deadline: Grade W

Week 9
M, 3-3
No Class: Spring Break
W, 3-5
No Class: Spring Break
F, 3-7
No Class: Spring Break
Week 10
M, 3-10

Screening: In the Realms of the Unreal

W, 3-12

Screening, concluded

Short Paper 2 Due

F, 3-14

In the Realms of the Unreal, discussion

MacGregor, "The Confrontation: The Artist and the Madman" (online)

MacGregor, "Psychoanalysis and the Study of Psychotic Art" (online)

Week 11
M, 3-17

Barrantes-Vidal, "Creativity & Madness Revisited from Current Psychological Perspectives" (online)

Park and Simpson-Housley, ""To the 'Infinite Spaces of Creation': The Interior Landscape of a Schizophrenic Artist" (online)

W, 3-19

Rhodes, "Art Brut" (online)

Rhodes, "Alternative Worlds" (online)

F, 3-21
Shelley, Frankenstein (1-58)
Week 12
M, 3-24
Shelley, Frankenstein (59-156)
W, 3-26
Shelley, continued
F, 3-28
Shelley, criticism (Norton)
Week 13
M, 3-31
Watson, The Double Helix (1-136)
W, 4-2
Watson, criticism (Norton)
F, 4-4
No Class: Research Paper Conferences
Week 14
M, 4-7

3 Presentations

Annotated Bibliography Due

W, 4-9
3-4 Presentations
F, 4-11
3-4 Presentations
Week 15
M, 4-14

2 Presentations

W, 4-16
3-4 Presentations
F, 4-18

3-4 Presentations

T, 4-22

Note: Section 4 (MWF 9:00AM) meets from 8:00-9:50AM

Note: Section 1 (MWF 1:00PM) meets from 2:00-3:50PM

7-8 Presentations

Research Paper Due