Writing creatively in a museum: Tracing lines through persons, art objects and texts.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Creative writing is often thought of as an individual and solitary pursuit. This is partly owing to Romantic (and still popular) notions of creativity as residing in highly gifted individuals, but also to the widely held belief that writing is a lonely rather than a social activity. The research presented in this paper provides a unique insight into the creative process by tracing the way one poem is produced by a member of a creative writing class based in a major urban art gallery. Based on a five-year ethnographic study of this class, it employs interview material, field notes, photographs and creative writing as data. Using theories from both the ‘anthropology of writing’ (Barton and Papen, 2010; Latour and Woolgar, 1986) and the ‘anthropology of creativity’ (Ingold, 2007; Leach, 2007) I argue that creative writing is a relational and temporal process involving complex and multiple claims for agency. I also go on to show that when the text moves from a private to a public context, these multiple agencies are encompassed and erased under the umbrella of individual authorship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-148
Early online date12 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016


  • creativity
  • fiction writing
  • museum education
  • ethnography


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