This article, which is speculative in outlook and emerges from an extended literature review on this subject, takes as its basic premise the notion that the idea of ‘creativity’– whether in relation to literacy, schooling or the economy, is constructed as a series of rhetorical claims. These rhetorics of creativity emerge from the contexts of research, theory, policy and practice. Initially, we distinguish 10 rhetorics, which are described in relation to the philosophical or political traditions from which they spring. The discussion then focuses on four rhetorics – play, technology, politics/democracy and the creative classroom – which have most relevance for understandings of literacies and the way in which these are nurtured, encouraged and expressed in different social settings. This article aims to summarise the rhetorics and their major concerns, while considering how selected ones might apply to an instance of media literacy. Key questions addressed in this article ask whether creativity is more usefully understood as an internal cognitive function or an external cultural phenomenon; whether it is a ubiquitous human activity or a special faculty; whether it is necessarily ‘pro-social’ or should be dissident; and what the implications of a culturalist social psychological approach to creativity might be for analyses of the media literacy of children and young people.