"The book grounds crucial considerations of relations between writing, space, and mobility in vivid scenes of graffiti writing in ways that deepen our understandings of public writing and community literacies. The book also serves as a much-needed exemplar of participatory research and writing."—Brice Nordquist, Syracuse University
"Ethnographically rich, theoretically innovative, suffused with all manner of subcultural secrets, and tuned in tight to the spatial and rhetorical dynamics of graffiti writing – this book is the bomb!"—Jeff Ferrell, author of Crimes of Style: Urban Graffiti and the Politics of Criminality
"On spots, walls, trains, and in blackbooks, graffiti writers archive their vibrant creation of public spaces and Lesh brings these archives to life with an ethnographer’s eye and rich illustrations. A unique and important contribution to community literacy and public writing, The Writing of Where is a must read for scholars of literacy, writing, and rhetoric."—Ellen Cushman, Northeastern University
In The Writing of Where, Charles Lesh examines how graffiti writers in Boston remake various spaces within and across the city. The spaces readers will encounter in this book are not just meaningful venues of writing, but also outcomes of writing itself: social spaces not just where writing happens but created because writing happens. Lesh contends that these graffiti spaces reinvent the writing landscape of the city and its public relationship with writing.
Each chapter introduces readers to different writing spaces: from bold and broadly visible spots along the highway to bridge underpasses seldom seen by non-writers; from inconspicuous notebooks writers call “bibles” to freight yards and model trains; from abandoned factories to benches where writers view trains. Between each chapter, readers will find “community interludes,” responses to the preceding chapters from some of the graffiti writers who worked on this project.
By working closely with writers engaged in the production of these spaces, as well as drawing on work invested in questions of geography, publics, and writing, Lesh identifies new models of community engagement and articulates a framework for the spatiality of the public work of writing and writing studies.
Charles N. Lesh is assistant professor of English at Auburn University. His work has appeared in such journals as Composition Studies, Community Literacy Journal, Reflections, and College English, among others.
6 x 9, 304 pages, 36 color, 2 black and white illustrations