Those wishing to study or provoke the creative process know that it is by nature elusive. Academic Press designed the Encyclopedia of Creativity, edited by Mark Runco and Steven Pritzker, to help pin it down by presenting the state of the art in social-science research and theory in a comprehensive, yet accessible, two-volume set. Nearly 200 entries, including important concepts such as Problem Finding and Serendipity, and biographical sketches of creative geniuses such as Sylvia Plath and Charles Darwin, fill 1,400 pages with insights and ideas for people working on the theory or the practice of creativity.
Be warned: Though it is accessible, it isn't pleasure reading. The biographies are occasionally enlightening (if somewhat arbitrary), but most entries are written with the social-science professional in mind and are consequently rather dry. This is no weakness for the serious researcher, however; in fact, the definitions and bibliographies are very helpful for focusing the reader's thinking about difficult subjects. The serious-minded student will find plenty to play with in the Encyclopedia of Creativity. --Rob Lightner
From Library Journal
This two-volume encyclopedia aims to be "comprehensive, and written for a wide audience. Here everyone from the casual newcomer to the seasoned researcher can find a broad cross section of information and even guidance about creativity." Unfortunately, that is only partly true. On the plus side, the articles (generally ten to 20 pages long) cover a wide variety of topics and contain lively biographical sketches of famous creative individuals whose lives have been studied in relation to theories of creativity. Contributors, predominantly psychologists, also include experts in business, education, and the arts. Each article contains definitions of terms unfamiliar to the general reader and also a bibliography. Unfortunately, as is often the case with collections of articles by many authors, the tone is uneven; some of the articles are inaccessible to nonspecialists. Furthermore, most of the biographical sketches, supposedly included to illustrate certain theories about creativity, do not adequately do so. Finally, the index is incomplete: for example, there are no entries for "bipolar disorder," "manic depression," or "depression," and although the relationship between depressive illness and creativity is discussed in the article "Affective Disorders," the nonspecialist would have a hard time finding the information. For large academic libraries only.
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-Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, WA
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