Analyzing Graffiti and Street Art Discourses

A discourse community is a community that has several features in common that help to define their group. These features allow the community to have a standard way of communicating, a general understanding of norms within the group, and certain membership criteria. The texts within a discourse community are also helpful in identifying a discourse community. It is important to study discourses in order to gain a broader range of knowledge about the discourse group being studied. In addition to learning more about a discourse community, the potential for learning more about one’s own identity and one’s relative place in society. Another way a discourse community can be explained is like this: “Imagine that each time I am acting within a given Discourse, or combination of them, that a specific color of paint is put on me, each Discourse being associated with a different color. If we look at a person, the predominant color scheme on the person now defines that person’s social trajectory thus far” (Gee). The purpose of discourse pedagogy teaching is that our “color scheme” will potentially allow for a better understanding of other discourse communities as well as a better understanding of self.

In other words Discourse Is:

The graffiti discourse community that I will primarily focus on comes from the postmodern era of art. This infers that I will be analyzing the graffiti movement that emerged during the late 1960’s to the early 1970’s. This particular subculture had developed as a “form of resistance to authority and at the same time a means of expression and connectedness to its own subculture” (Dennant).

The discourse community of street artists actually came about after the graffiti movement and has many elements that graffiti artists exhibit. This is due to the fact that many graffiti writers progressed into the discourse community of street art. This group is hardly defined by what medium they use as a tool other than their visual art is always displayed in the eye of the public. Their methods can be anything from painting, spray paint, stickers, projection, installations, stencils, wheat pasting’s or even flash mobbing.

The way I intend to analyze these two discourse communities will be by comparing and contrasting the features of both groups. I will discuss in the pages section of this website: the roots of each community, the ways in which these groups communicate; both with each other and with the world, the art periods congruent with each movement, intertexuality both groups have in common with advertisement companies, how these groups view membership within their community, the issue of “selling-out,” how these groups effect personal identity, as well as how these groups effect the world globally and what the possible future of these discourses are.


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