Nano Study of Chalk Writing

I have been meaning all semester to post a micro.study of chalk writing on campus, but now looking at how little time remains and seeing how much I have left to do, I think I will have to settle for a nano.study.

What I find interesting about chalk writing at UIUC includes:
  • the exuberance students bring to the forms

  • that there are many forms of chalk writing (genres within the technology), ranging from expository to personal to political to advertising

  • that this is an exclusively undergraduate writing technology (Facebook used to function this way but has recently been encroached on by folks, including myself, from other strata of the university)

  • ways that, at times, chalk writers work with the materiality of what they are writing on to create their texts

This last bullet point is what we see going on in this image (above), as the writer uses a patch of bricks as pixels in a larger, brick-bound composition. A few weeks before this one appeared I saw (but failed to photograph ... darn!) a related but different use of this same "canvas." In that use of the bricks, the writer located one letter in each brick. That failed to reference the pixel, though, which is what I like so much about this one.

Elsewhere on campus, sentences wrap with curvatures in the pavement, or bend around corners, or line up with neat brick work.

Anyway, that's my nano.study of chalk writing. In the fall I'm slated to teach the course "Writing Technologies" again, and as it will be linked with the very cool EOTU project, I plan to have students document chalk writing around campus while doing site-specific analyses. Those projects, no doubt, will transcend the nano.


  1. Your class will be fun, and I like how this meshes with your textscape stuff.

  2. Love the nano.study. Glad I'm not the only one who documents such things. And your last sentence could serve as a general researcherly imperative: "transcend the nano!"