Writing. Design. Social Change.

Tools for critiquing and creating aesthetic texts

I developed the Aesthetic Toolbox after conducting empirical research on student learning in Arts & Humanities courses at Michigan State as a CASTL scholar. This online heuristic aids in the critique and production of aesthetic texts. Featuring six tools: feeling, design, movement, familiarity, vocabulary and idea, the toolbox creates a common vocabulary for people to communicate meaningfully about aesthetic subjects. Each tool provides a series of guided questions that students answer intuitively, while regarding the work at hand.

Findings indicate that continued practice with the toolbox offer students a basic foundation, which leads to a deeper understanding of artistic subjects and the development of an aesthetic vocabulary. These outcomes ultimately enrich student’s understanding of art subjects and aid in the development of their critical and interpretative skills.

The toolbox was used in multiple sections of the course The U.S. & The World at Michigan State University in 2006-2008.

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