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Humanist Archives: Jan. 21, 2019, 6:20 a.m. Humanist 32.364 - scholarship on graffiti

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 364.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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        Date: 2019-01-20 22:15:34+00:00
        From: Bill Benzon 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.360: scholarship on graffiti

Comments below.

> --[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
>        Date: 2019-01-19 08:02:56+00:00
>        From: Willard McCarty 
>        Subject: reason for asking about graffiti
> Bill Benzon has asked why I asked about scholarship on graffiti. My
> reason was better to understand what happens when people add comments to
> things (broadly understood), whether these things are notebooks,
> diaries, printed books, manuscripts or other physical objects, such as
> walls of buildings. The last of these brings graffiti into the picture.
> The particular graffito that I first had in mind is in the Dictionary of
> Words in the Wild (lexigraphi.ca), "If the leaders are impotent... only
> the people can rise" (https://lexigraphi.ca/home/photo?entity=964). The
> Dictionary entry is a photo I took in Belfast, Northern Ireland, ca.
> 2010.

So, Willard, you're interested in graffiti broadly construed.  That's a wide
range of phenomena, giving you a wide range of motivations. Why do people write
on bathroom walls, and what do they write? What about hobo graffiti of freight
trains? If you do a search on "graffiti Arab Spring" I'm sure you'll
come up with material, same with something like "political graffiti." When
did people start putting "Frodo Lives" on walls? & do they still do it?

As for the particular example you give, Willard, I can say that's not from the
graffiti tradition, narrowly considered, that I've been interested in. The
lettering is rather crude, suggesting that the writer doesn't do this very
often. Beyond that, who knows?


> For graffiti there's quite a lot of work done for the ancient variety,
> e.g. at Pompeii, of course. The shock-value of including a very modern
> example, such as my Belfast photo recommends doing that, since it
> directs attention to the common ground: can such a thing be included?

Be included where?

> Jackson does much the same in the introduction to her book, though her
> aim is to raise the interesting historical question of when we begin to
> dismiss scribbles as defacements. My question is more inward-focused:
> what happens cognitively in the moment of the writing?

Wouldn't you have to ask the writer about that?

Bill B

Bill Benzon





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