Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Science


creativity, Cultural feminism, history, nursing


Using historical methodology, this study examined the concept of creativity in Western nursing from a cultural feminist perspective. An exploration of the concept was accomplished by means of a review emanating from the English literature of Western nursing and its allied disciplines of education and psychology. Two distinct views of creativity were delineated--the classical and the contemporary. The classical understanding required the completion of a major product or attainment in order for creativity to be ascribed. In contrast, the contemporary view was that of a novel, unrestrained thought process. It required no creative work or attainment for its ascription. The creative lives of select Western nurses, e.g., Florence Nightingale, Lillian Wald, Margaret Sanger, and Sister Elizabeth Kenny were also examined. It was revealed that they achieved major attainments worthy of the classical ascription of creativity. The compatibility of these nurses' personal philosophies with that of cultural feminism was demonstrated. Cultural feminism emphasized the differences between men and women. Women were purported to be more cooperative, altruistic, and life affirming than men. The male dominated political arena was viewed as fragmented, corrupt, and inadequate. Therefore, this second feminist tradition challenged women to initiate social reform by achieving major attainments in the public sphere. Cultural feminist philosophy harmonized with the classical theory of creativity. This research indicated that the convergence of complex social, economic, and political forces during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries led to nursing's current definition of creativity as a thought process. The ways in which nursing's contemporary view of creativity had impacted its educational objectives and method, influenced the aspirations of its practitioners, and determined nurses' perception of their work was also explained. Nursing was encouraged to consider which definition of creativity would best meet the needs of the profession in the twenty-first century. This study has implications for both nursing practice and education. It suggests that their contemporary theory of creativity actually impedes the production of creative work. It indicates that both the classical view of creativity and the philosophy of cultural feminism have much to offer members of a profession composed mostly of women.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons