Young Investigator Greoup Creativity and Genius

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The Return of the Genius: Representations of Creative Subjectivity in Contemporary Cinema

Anna Baccanti

Anna Baccanti’s project examines the persistence of the concept of genius in contemporary commercial cinema. Her research focuses on a genre of popular films that could be described as “genius biopics”. The genius biopic is centered around the portrayal of an exceptionally creative subject — be it an artist, a scientist or a high-tech entrepreneur — and like other biopics, claims a high degree of authenticity. The cinematic representation of “geniuses” often reverts to topoi derived from conceptions typical of the aesthetics of artistic genius from the 18th and 19th century. This appears especially archaic considering the current dominant discourses on creativity with which it is often at odds.

The thesis project seeks to clarify whether the figure of the genius in contemporary cinema is indeed an anachronism or whether the persistence of this type can be taken as an indication that exceptional creative subjectivity has resisted its banalization through the creative industries.