Ben Jonson frequently referred to his literary works as his ‘mind children’ in the paratext accompanying his printed plays, and he movingly reversed the analogy in his commemorative poem “On My First Sonne”: rendering tribute to the deceased child by styling him his father’s “best piece of poetry”. Jonson is associated with a bold renegotiation of authorship in the early modern period, but he was far from alone in turning to procreational metaphors in descriptions of his literary practice. Metaphors of this kind were useful to writers in suggesting a close relationship between author and text and to grapple with the notion of creative innovation vis-à-vis tradition.
There are many ways to frame authorship and creativity, of course: from the notion of the independent creative genius, dominant from the 18th century onward, to the idea that the author is a medium rather than an originator, channeling the concerns of their particular social context in the available expressive forms. Moreover, religious concerns have historically compelled authors to ponder the degree to which human beings – creatures themselves – can or should be truly ‘creative’ in their own right.
I am looking for researchers concerned with any of the issues raised above, who would be interested in becoming co-applicants for the funding program “Open Up – New Research Spaces for the Humanities and Cultural Studies” provided by the German VW Stiftung.
For more information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.