Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version

January 2005


Published in Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 21 (1), 121-129. Used by permission.


I propose to consider the nature of aesthetics through the perspectives of three contemporaries of early 20th century England (Virginia Woolf, 1882-1941 , Clive Bell, 1881-1964, and Sylvia Gosse, 1881-1968), with claim to an intimate understanding of the aesthetic. This is an imaginative journey of my own making. I find imagination makes empathy possible. Imagination allows me to put aside my definitions and distinctions regarding the aesthetic, and give credence to alternative perspectives. Aesthetics is an elusive entity that is used indiscriminately to capture a felt dimension of lived experience. Superficially the aesthetic is a term often used to mean simple beauty, referring to the harmonious, pleasant, or seductive look of a form/object. This is a consideration void of the meaning(s) or significance(s) of a form/object. In fact, too often in everyday discourse this superficial application of the aesthetic seems to be the primary meaning attached to this term. Despite the thick traditions associated with aesthetics, most of us use the term without a full and personal comprehension of the meaning(s) to which we wish to refer with our use. Imaginative possibilities beckon louder.