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Sixth Form Enlightenment Lecture

The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword

Dr Nancy Macdonald is a qualitative and ethnographic insight specialist, who has worked on marketing and other projects for corporations such as the BBC, Nokia and Starbucks. She earned her PhD at Brunel University, and carried out her field research into the psychology and sociology of graffiti both in London and New York. She is currently doing her own research into such subjects.

'It was fascinating to have a new insight into a social phenomenon that people commonly see and simply walk past, or dismiss as vandalism and nothing more. We learned of the codes and rules of the graffiti sub-culture, by which most artists abide, and the consequences and connotations should these rules be broken. Dr Macdonald stressed the importance of the alter egos that the graffiti writers present in their “tags” and the boost of self-confidence and self-awareness it gives them; such is the basis of the entire sub-culture. The lecture revealed aspects of the graffiti culture that many of us had simply never considered, even though upon a visit to any nearby city, we are essentially surrounded by it.'

Aidan King (Lower Sixth, Gascoigne)

'Many thanks to Cokethorpe for inviting me to talk about my research and the book I have written about the illegal graffiti subculture in London and New York. Looking at illustrations of the different forms, styles and locations of graffiti, we explored how young men can use crime, danger and the written word to construct identity and override constraints which many limit them in 'real life'. The students had some thought provoking questions and we enjoyed some animated debate and discussion following the talk. I just wish there had been more time!' 

Dr Nancy MacDonald


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