Tiny Texts: Book Sculptures

How do we to define a text?  Paper and ink?  12 point Times New Roman font?  Tweets via HootSuite?  In the recent past we’ve argued that images, commercials, TED talks, and presidential holiday cards are texts.  But what about art?  Or more specifically texts turned into tiny works of art?


In September 2011, I highlighted one of my favorite blogs, Krulwich Wonders. When I profiled them this fall, I included a series of posts to use in your classroom that included everything from Vonnegut’s understanding of story arcs to writing as a careful craft.   While Krulwich’s tag line reads “A Sciencey Blog,” I frequently find resources that are applicable for an English language classroom.  And that of course is where the tiny texts made of texts appear.

At the end of October & November, Krulwich posted about a “library phantom” who left lovely little sculptures made out of books in various libraries and museums around Edinburgh, Scotland.  Each sculpture included a note of thanks for libraries, books, words, etc.  Now Krulwich’s narrative is captivating enough for a good pick me up mid-January, but the sculptures are truly exquisite.

These tiny little texts coupled with Krulwich’s text are an easy way to teach students about media literacy, argument, tone, digital citizenship, etc.  Below are Krulwich’s blog posts, a Scottish Blog with high resolution photos and some questions you might consider posing to your students.  If you’re looking for a BYOD activity this might certainly be it.  Since students could use iPads, smartphones, or iPod Touches to view the material if you have limited computer access.

Kruliwch Wonders

“The Library Phantom Returns!”

“Who Left a Tree, Then a Coffin in the Library?”


High Resolution Photos

This is Central Station


Possible Questions for Discussion

  1. What type of argument does each book sculpture make?  Do they differ from sculpture to sculpture?
  2. Is the level of detail necessary to make the argument substantial?  Why?
  3. Are the “aesthetics” of the sculpture important in establishing its argument?
  4. What is the importance of size?
  5. Why is it important that these were left anonymously and secretly?
  6. Why might the media follow this story?  Why might this captivate an entire nation?
  7. What does it say about Scotland and their media, that ultimately they would rather keep the “phantom’s” identity anonymous?

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