Peer review of “The Energy Walk: Experimenting with Aesthetic Methods in STS?” by Line Marie Thorsen

This review intends to focus on critiquing not the content, but rather the style, language and structure of the text; the writing in short.

To determine the intention of her text, we must look at the end of it. In her concluding remarks, L. M. Thorsen draws on Dewey to explain why it can be categorized as an aesthetic experience. She states her hopes for the future of STS in the very final statement: “If we are serious about methodological cross-pollination among disciplines, then STS needs to be sensitised towards aesthetics in order to grapple with these engagements.” This could be indicative of her intention with the text – one could assume that she wants this “cross-pollination” to happen. She believes that “the Energy Walk thus seems to me to open up an interesting space for further experimenting with the relevance of aesthetic method and thinking to STS research and practice – and visa versa.” This is why she makes such an effort to ensure that the reader emphasizes with the experience and understands it: she believes it to have potential for STS as a whole. In short, in better understanding aesthetics STS would also be better able to understand other disciplines as well.

The language is advanced, but not overly complex. The writer uses words and terms native to Science and Technology Studies(STS), making it more difficult, but not impossible, for outsiders to the research field to follow. The primary intended audience, considering the publication, is then quite clear: researchers in the field of STS. Due to the nature of her text, it being a review of someone else’s research, she cannot directly bring in the supporting data and analysis work that the original researchers might have done. This could mean that some researchers would not be convinced merely by reading her review.

Style-wise, L.M. Thorsen uses long explicatory statements such as “Leading up on the wooden stairway through the dunes overlooking the harbour; around the electrical mast on top; through a small grass-covered path; through a meadow with grazing cows overlooking the adjacent National Park; up a gravelled path to the old lighthouse and the town church; onto the paved road leading back to the overview of the harbour.” The elaborate description helps the reader imagine and immerse themselves in the situation. The author even refers to “you” when explaining the Energy Walk, as if the reader is being enticed to participate. The intent here could be to give the reader the opportunity to understand the experience, even if they were never actually to visit Hanstholm and partake in the Energy Walk themselves. Likely, this was done due to the nature of the research being discussed – the experience itself is a critical component without which the research becomes pointless. It is consequently crucial that the reader is made to believe that the experience is interesting and worthwhile, the two things that the author wants to emphasize that it is; thus supporting her intention well.

Perhaps in spite of the capabilities of the audience, or perhaps signifying a targeted sub-audience, L. M. Thorsen employs a simple structure throughout the text, using summary statements at the end of sections to guide the reader through it. Arguably, it even follows the standard successive format of: introduction, analysis, discussion and conclusion. This helps the reader follow the argument easily, building their own understanding and consequently supports her intention well.

In conclusion, the language, style and structure seems to support L.M. Thorsen’s intention well, though some of the readers may find the text lacking due to its very nature. These would need to consult the original research articles to make their final judgement.

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