True stories about tall tales: a study of creativity and cultural production in contemporary Australian children’s picture books
|Institution:||University of Newcastle|
|Keywords:||creativity; cultural production; creative industries; Australian literature; children's literature; Csikszentmihalyi; Bourdieu; systems model|
|Full text PDF:||http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/1312065|
Research Doctorate - Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Creativity is a uniquely human trait. However its ubiquity does not mean it is simple to understand. Various investigations into the nature of creativity have focused on an individual’s biology or psychology, or studied the surrounding society and culture in an attempt to pinpoint creative action. These types of studies, while they have their merit, have tended to focus only on one part of the phenomenon at the expense of the others. Instead, as current research suggests, a more valuable explanation of creativity is one that encompasses multiple factors in a system of mutual influence. It is argued that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s systems model of creativity (1988, 1996, 1999) along with Pierre Bourdieu’s discussion of cultural production (1977, 1993, 1996) as examples of confluence approaches provide the best theoretical foundation to examine the complexity of creativity, as they both consider personal influences in conjunction with broader social and cultural contexts. All three of these components, a domain of cultural knowledge, a social field of experts, and individual creators can be identified within the sphere of Australian children’s picture books. Analysis of the data collected examined the connections between these three components to reveal the underlying systemic nature of creativity in Australian children’s picture books. This research employed case study methodology to examine the work processes of and interactions between key producers of Australian children’s picture books. Of the 20 people interviewed, 18 had written or illustrated a picture book. These authors and illustrators provide a broad sample from the population with some at the beginning of their careers producing only a handful of books while others produced more than 60 books over multiple decades. Additionally, a number of these authors and illustrators have worked in other production roles as editors, publishers, and booksellers so they were also able to speak to the function these intermediaries performed within the field. To support the interviews conducted with these participants, various modes of observation were used along with document and artefact analysis. The data gathered through these methods has demonstrated that there is a dynamic relationship constantly evolving between individual producers and the social and cultural structures they exist and work within. This research has concluded then, that rather than being the product of a singular individual, Australian children’s picture books are produced within a complex relation of systemic elements. Producers, often authors and illustrators, work as individuals by drawing upon their respective backgrounds to engage with a domain of knowledge that pre-exists them as well as engaging with a unique social structure consisting of all the cultural intermediaries (such as editors, publishers, and audiences) who regulate that knowledge, in order to produce a novel product. Understanding this complex system is the key to enhancing the… Advisors/Committee Members: University of Newcastle. Faculty of Science & Information Technology, School of Design, Communication, and IT.