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Invented Worlds: The Psychology of the Arts

Invented Worlds: The Psychology of the Arts

by Ellen Winner


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Cave paintings of our prehistoric ancestors, elaborate ritual dances of preliterate tribesmen, long lines at the movies, earnest scribbles of the three-year-old next door—evidence of human preoccupation with art is everywhere, and it is overwhelming. But unlike other human universals—language, tool use, the family—art makes no material contribution to mankind’s survival. What impels the artist to the lonely effort at self-expression? What moves the audience to resonate to the work of a master? What accounts for the child’s inherent fascination with pictures and stories and songs?

These questions are among the deepest we can ask about human nature. Freud deemed some of them forever unanswerable, but modern psychology has made new inroads into these old mysteries. Invented Worlds provides a complete, authoritative account of this progress. Dealing with the three major art forms—painting, music, and literature—Ellen Winner shows how the artist fashions a symbolic world that transforms the experience of the observer. She probes the adult’s ability to create and respond to works of art. In addition, she examines children’s art for what it can reveal about the artistic impulse before adult convention becomes a shaping force. Finally, in order to reach a better understanding of the biological bases of artistry, Winner discusses the art of the mentally disturbed and the neurologically impaired patient.

The sum of these discussions is more than an up-to-date handbook to the field; it is nothing less than a new synthesis of our understanding of man’s artistic nature. Written with admirable clarity, Invented Worlds is a book that can be used by professionals and students in psychology, education, and the arts, as well as anyone with reason to be curious about the processes that underlie the creation and enjoyment of art.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674463608
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 11/15/1982
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)

About the Author

Ellen Winner is Professor of Psychology at Boston College and Senior Research Associate at Project Zero, Harvard University. She is also the author of Gifted Children: Myths and Realities.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Puzzle of Art

1. Personality and Intellect

1. The Artist

2. The Audience

2. Painting

3. What's in a Picture?

4. The Untutored Eye?

5. The Development of Drawing

3. Music

6. The Sounds of Music

7. The Innovent Ear

8. The Birth of Song

4. Literature

9. The Literary Experience

10. Once upon a Time

11. First Drafts

5. Art and Abnormality

12. The Damaged Brain

13. Mental Illness

Epilogue: Solving the Puzzle of Art

Illustration Sources



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