September 2014 - August 2016
This project examines historic and systematic ties between the historic aesthetics of genius and the postmodern regime of creativity. Its point of departure is a paradox: Since the 1950s, creativity has become an imperative of nearly universal validity; at the same time, it conveys the promise of individual distinction. This contradiction results from the generalization of a genius-centered understanding of aesthetic production which has, in its central parameters, remained unaltered since the second half of the 18th century. The phenomena of creative class and creative industries can be traced back to a poetics of invention that was developed in the heterogeneous discourses of Enlightenment anthropology, debates on artistic autonomy, aesthetic models of genius and Counter-Enlightenment conceptions of art as religion.
Jan Niklas Howe has received his PhD from the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies in Berlin, with a dissertation on monstrosities in 19th century literature and science. He has taught as a research assistant at the Peter Szondi Institute for General and Comparative Literature.