Murals=Writing? Maybe…

One of the gallery examples that surprised me, and that we didn’t discuss much in class, was the Yelp restaurant review. There is much more to these reviews that meets the eye. They fit under many of the umbrella categories of writing we discussed in class, like entertainment, advertising, and personal. While these articles aren’t held to the same standard of professionalism as an advertisement and are not being graded like a piece of academic writing, the reviews are being read critically by consumers and their selling points can be influential.

The other gallery item that gave me pause was the mural painting. After reading the description below the image, I am still unsure whether or not I would categorize the painting as a form of writing. However, Enni makes some very valid arguments on why murals can be considered writing: like writing, the murals deliver a message and express emotion. This example made me second guess my definition of writing as something that had to be done with pen and paper or by a computer.

This activity, and the reflections we have begun to analyze in Writing 220, have helped me to expand my definition of what qualifies as writing. In the “cut-up” activity, I was reminded of the creative freedom writing allows, which goes way beyond just making an argument. This “What Counts” gallery was another reminder of the creativity present in such a wide variety of writing genres. Everybody’s definitions of “What Counts” as writing can be flexible and can differ from one another, and that is where so much of writing’s creativity stems from.

Sarah Schuman

Hi! I'm Sarah, from the Chicago area. I write more eloquently with a chai latte by my side.

4 thoughts to “Murals=Writing? Maybe…”

  1. I think you bring up some really interesting points to consider here. As a typical consumer, I often yelp a restaurant before I choose to eat there. Ranging from the different reviews, I make a judgement that I would often value over a food critic’s opinion. I think this also shows how writing on the internet gives a voice to the masses. Instead of valuing a single person’s input, we begin to value the public as a whole because we can create a collaborative dialogue. The other interesting point you bring up was with the mural. I remember thinking the same thing in class, debating whether or not a mural should and could be considering writing. While I still don’t know if it is writing in my mind, I do certainly think it conveys a message and often emotion.

    Lastly, the cut-up machine activity also reminded me of how expansive the term ‘writing’ can be. I often become fixated on old pieces of writing and don’t want to ‘ruin’ them by over-editing them. The cut-up machine reminded me that words can be cut, rearranged and replaced. They aren’t ever really solidified and we always have the power to employ them in different ways.

  2. I agree with both Sarah and Anisha’s comments on the mural. If we define writing as a form of tangible communication, then murals would definitely be considered writing. Enni also pointed out that these murals were created before written language had been invented, so in many cultures drawing was the medium that most closely resembled writing. However if we define writing as “marking coherent words…and composing text” (as my Apple Dictionary states) then murals don’t necessarily fit this definition. Nevertheless, since writing is an evolving category (i.e. Twitter now counts as writing), I think it’s important to look at the origins of writing and even study “pre-writing” such as murals to appreciate how much progress we’ve made with the art of writing.

  3. Sarah,

    You make many interesting points in your post. The yelp review also stood out to me because it wasn’t a form of writing that immediately stood out to me when I was thinking about what counts as writing. Our debate in class today regarding what counts as writing circled back to the issue of the mural and whether or not something as abstract as a painting would be considered a form of writing, and I liked your comments on the matter. Your comment on the cut up machine made me think about my difficulty to change or edit writing that I am attached to but how lettting go of that can make my writing so much better.

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