To complement their post on Documenting and Preserving the Graffiti in Alderman Library’s Study Carrels, the students in the spring 2019 seminar course Literacy and Orality, taught by UVA Anthropology professor and documentary linguist Lise Dobrin, present a gallery of graffiti in the carrels of Alderman Library.
Guest post by: Kennedy Castillo (UVA Linguistics MA, 2019), Lise Dobrin (UVA Associate Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics Program Director), Liam Donohue (UVA Anthropology and Environmental Science BA, 2019), Grace East (UVA Anthropology PhD Candidate), Edith Kachia (Visiting Fulbright Swahili TA, 2018-19), Jenny Lee (UVA English and American Studies BA, 2019), Dakota Marsh (UVA English BA, 2020), Jacob Nelson (UVA Linguistics BA, 2020), Will Norton (UVA Linguistics BA, 2020)
Carrel 4-2. Cry for the liberation of Palestine, with an addendum to the right that reads, “From Islamic Tyranny” (subsequently crossed out). Other comments include snippets of lyrics from Misfits’ “Theme For a Jackal” and The Smiths’ “Cemetery Gates.” The comment in Russian (circled) translates roughly as “Hello to everyone who cares/bothers.” Thanks to Research Librarian for the Humanities Erin Pappas for help with the translation.
Carrel 4-3. A graffiti referencing the tradition of writing on the walls of carrel 4-3 in a format containing the date, time, and weather, and a comment describing the affect or emotions of the writer, in this case, a sense of withdrawal. It reads: “11:44 AM 9/25/18: I write this as to be part of the tradition. 68°F, misty, haven’t seen the sun in so long I’ve stopped thinking about it.”
Carrel 4-3. Various dated graffiti, ranging from 2012 to 2018, with descriptions of the weather or comments of activities being done by author. In the lower right, a reference to the annual Foxfield races held each spring, during which many UVA students participate in the festivities.
Carrel 4-3. Also part of the complex of dated graffiti found in this carrel, with the usual description of the day’s weather with additional comments. Here we see students expressing their preference of Alderman Library over Clemons Library. Additionally, on the right, a comment about the women of a sorority colloquially known as Theta.
Carrel 4-3. A pair of graffiti written a year a part during election season.
Carrel 4-5. On the left, the acronym “FML” (meaning ‘fuck my life’) is scratched out in favor of a more optimistic acronym, “SVT,” meaning “so very thankful.” In the middle, part of a long column of dates written down this carrel wall. Note one date reads “420/420/420,” a reference to marijuana. Lastly, on the right, a student requests that Library administration avoid painting over the comments on the carrel walls, as they plan to bring their children to Alderman Library to show them the carrels in ten years’ time.
Carrel 4-8. Criticism of a person named Becky for being ignorant despite blowing money on education. The final bit of this graffiti is visible in another photograph, but reads in its entirety: “You can spend $40,000 a year on tuition if you want, Becky. But you are still an over privileged ignorant human being, But I’m sure those Frye boots + expensive blow outs fill the void of human decency.” (NOTE: The term Becky, according to Merriam-Webster, “is increasingly functioning as an epithet, and being used especially to refer to a white woman who is ignorant of both her privilege and her prejudice.”)
Carrel 4-8. Lyrics from the song “Sicko Mode,” by Travis Scott, with a slight twist.
Carrel 4-8. Politics and UVA culture are almost completely synonymous.
Carrel 4-8. Discussion of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The first comment condemns the nomination, stating, “Fuck Kavanaugh & entitled white men,” while the second offers a refutation of “Innocent till proven guilty.”
Carrel 4-9. Graffiti written in the Tibetan language, translated with the help of Research Librarian for Tibetan/Buddhism/Contemplative Studies Nawang Thokmey. The graffitist has written the date: 2017-09-13, the name of the work, “sa skya legs bshad” — “The Elegant Sayings of Sakya Paṇḍita,” the name of the author, Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen (1182–1251), and the saying:
Even if one is to die the next morning, today one must study.
Though one may not become a sage in this life,
Knowledge is safely deposited for future lives,
Just as riches safely deposited can later be reclaimed.
Carrel 4-11. Expression of desire for drugs, with many humorous responses, some of which incorporate word play.
Carrel 4-14. A German quote, with its English translation right next to it. “Leben ist zeichnen ohne Radiergummi | life is drawing w/o an eraser.”
Carrel 4-15. Some inspiration for those students stuck in the stacks, in the form of slightly modified lyrics from the song “Waiting for My Sun to Shine,” by The Maine.
Carrel 4-17. The infamous, marijuana-related tag “Dank nugz” alongside a command to “Do work!”
Carrel 4-19. Graffiti of various themes, including suicide (right side) and belief (left side).
Carrel 4-19. A doodle of the chemical structure of cocaine. Combining organic chemistry with illicit drugs somehow makes you seem less of a nerd.
Carrel 4-19. Enclosed in a rectangle, an unattributed line from the song “Shut Up I Am Dreaming Of Places Where Lovers Have Wings,” by Sunset Rubdown. This same line of lyrics appears in another carrel on the same floor of Alderman. Directly below is a response in Spanish, reading “‘es una cuestión de ondas…’” which translates to, “It is a matter of waves.”
Carrel 4-19. An initial song quote with two responses, one continuing the song, and another commenting on how meaningful the question truly is.
Carrel 5-5. The HELP Line is a 24-hour confidential and anonymous student-supervised hotline for University students and Charlottesville community members.
Want more graffiti? The class has put together a mini-graffiti hunt on the 4th floor of Alderman. Look for the “Alderman Graffiti Hunt” bookmarks at the circulation desk in Memorial Hall.