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Writing 150: Issues in Aesthetics-Spring-2024

Picking Your Topic Is Research

Please watch this video from NCSU Libraries prior to your library session. As you watch the video think about your own potential topic ideas, and then answer the questions below.

Brainstorming keywords for searching

Research Question:

Option 1. Visit a museum exhibit and write a review of the exhibit including research on the artist, artwork, genre or style. Consider the work in terms of its aesthetic impact and also in discourse with the community at large.

Option 2. Visit an architectural site in Los Angeles. Write about the experience of being within its design space. Include research of the architect and his or her work, genre, style, influence.

Option 3. Write a profile of a living artist you believe is undervalued or misunderstood. Contend with the difficulties around this artist and what his or her work means in light of it. This should be an artist with whom you have had a prior relationship, e.g., you’ve engaged with their work many times. Do not choose someone entirely unfamiliar to you.

Brainstorming and generating search terms involves thinking in terms of

  • synonyms,
  • antonyms,
  • related terms,
  • free associations.


A close reading of your assignment:

Scarry, Aristotle, Tolentino, Addison, Smith, aesthetics, its meaning, purpose, power.

aesthetics, noticing, senses, emotions, attachment, attraction, impact, meaning.

artist, oeuvre, impact, museum, "emotional experience," new, change, provoke.

art, merit, purpose, useful, useless, exhibit, work, photo, one frame, "curatorial choice," color

art, social, political, economic issues

Recent Readings

truth, beauty, antiquity, reflection, history, time, eternity, "fleeting moment, "Christianity, "ancient mythology," values, freedom, sexuality, Victorian, romantic, "timeless beauty," "classical education," class, community, "cultural capital," inquiry, interpretation, controversy, discussion, decoration, "Victorian values," judgement, reason, value, education, feeling, emotions, desire, politics, morality, innovation, revelation, insight, provocation.

"Art form", photograph, artwork, painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, exhibit, "curatorial choice, "aesthetic practices," controversial, controversy, "public debate" 

political crisis, and modernity, Keats, capitalism, environment, "British empire, "human suffering," exploration, insight



Examples of search terms, and how to use quotes and AND

"art exhibit" and politics

"art museum" and history and "social class"

"British Museum" and "Elkin antiquities" and controversy and colonialism

narrower terms

"Marcel Duchamp" and museum and urinal

ethnography and colonialism

"cultural appropriation" and "Native American Art"


related terms & synonyms & antonyms









Fact checking

Background knowledge: Credo Reference

Oxford Reference Online (a collection of subject encyclopedias) Reference resources help you with the background knowledge as you begin your brainstorming.

Oxford Art Online provides web access to the entire text of The Dictionary of Art (1996, 34 vols.) with annual additions of new material and updates to the text, plus extensive image links and all the sophisticated search advantages possible with an online reference source.
Access to the database is limited to 5 users.



Issues and Controversies

CQ Library (Congressional Quarterly Electronic Press Library, resources on American government, current affairs, history, politics, public policy, and data analysis for the social sciences). Recommendation: CQ Researcher.

Published by Britannica Group, this website promotes critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, primarily pro-con format. Topics such as Sex and Gender, Religion, and Media and Entertainment have at least one pro/con issue. The "for" and "against" text is in two columns, preceded by a "Did you know" and followed by a background essay. Footnotes are embedded in the text with many live links.