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A Critical Theory of Creativity


Dr Richard Howells’ new book A Critical Theory of Creativity: Utopia, Aesthetics, Atheism and Design has just been published (London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan and St. Martin’s Press).

It argues that a Utopian drive is aesthetically encoded within the language of form. Combining multidisciplinary theory with case studies ranging from planned communities to the relationship between Navajo theology and design, the book demonstrates how humankind is striving to fashion a better world from the raw materials we inherit.

Building upon the work of Ernst Bloch, Dr Howells sees the ‘fall’ as a liberation and Prometheus as a hero. He takes religion seriously as a cultural narrative, but replaces divine creation with human creativity. Coupled with this liberation from Eden comes a very human obligation that cannot be delegated to God, to nature or to market forces. A Critical Theory of Creativity‘s intellectual compass ranges from Roger Fry to Philip Pullman and Slavoj Žižek, returning always to an empowering, human-centred universe. As Bloch declared in The Spirit of Utopia, ‘Life has been put into our hands.’

Slavoj Žižek describes the book as: “a brilliant and magisterial overview of Bloch’s continued importance for today’s dystopian world…” Dr Howells is Reader in Culture, Media and Creative Industries here at CMCI. For more details go to: The book is also available for the usual online sellers.

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