“The Cult of Creativity is a beautifully written and well-documented account of how creativity gained the societal value it has today. Franklin reveals the powerful social construction at work behind the meaning of creativity and reminds us that such ideas have historical roots, as well as a more sinister side that should concern us all. Through engaging storylines, he builds a complex picture that is captivating to discover, piece by piece.”
— Vlad Glaveanu, author of Wonder: The Extraordinary Power of an Ordinary Experience
“Celebrated and sought-after, ‘creativity’ is often presented as the magic yet ineffable elixir for fame and fortune by today’s artists, technologists, and business leaders. And yet—until Samuel Franklin’s marvelous new book—it has been little studied as a historical phenomenon. The Cult of Creativity examines how, after World War II, a fascinating ensemble of psychologists, advertising executives, and other assorted gurus attempted to explain and quantify human ingenuity. The result is an insightful and delightful exploration into how we think about technology, capitalism, and consumerism.”
— W. Patrick McCray, author of Making Art Work: How Cold War Engineers and Artists Forged a New Creative Culture
“The Cult of Creativity presents an exceptionally lucid look at the various ideas, doctrines, and programs behind the concept of creativity. Through keen analysis, Franklin brings together scholarship from a range of sources to frame this powerful social and cultural critique.”
— Howard Brick, author of Transcending Capitalism: Visions of a New Society in Modern American Thought
"As historian Franklin notes in his forthcoming book The Cult of Creativity, the concept [of creativity] gained much of its cultural currency in the mid-20th century, when executives and other leaders tried to stimulate creativity in hopes of churning out better ad spreads and new technologies. With these titans’ encouragement, Americans began to see creativity as a virtuous end in itself, buying into the promise that expanding our creative abilities could fulfill us individually and secure our collective future."
— Boston Globe
"In Franklin’s account, creativity, the concept, popped up after the Second World War in two contexts. One was the field of psychology. Since the nineteenth century, when experimental psychology (meaning studies done with research subjects and typically in laboratory settings, rather than from an armchair) had its start, psychologists have been much given to measuring mental attributes. . . . The pages Franklin devotes to the contemporary creativity landscape are the freshest and most fun in the book."
— Louis Menand, New Yorker