Writing as Art

As an English major, I write a lot of papers every semester. This semester, one of my biggest papers happens to have something to do with viewing writing as a form of art. (It’s on something more specific than that, but that’s not important here.)

Because of that, I’ve been thinking about the overlapping nature of art quite a bit in the past several months. The basis for this paper came last semester, and although the topic has shifted, the basic idea has been brewing since then.

As this is a research paper, I’ve been reading as well and seeing what others have to say about the idea of different “fields” in the arts. It’s all things that I’ve always known on some level, but I never gave it much thought until now.

On some level, I think everyone’s pretty accepting that writing, music, dance, etc. are types of art. We get that, yet when we use the word “art” we almost, without a doubt, mean visual art.

That’s an interesting concept to me. It’s like it defines visual art as the “real” art while everything else is some sort of other in comparison to visual art. But if you ask those same people whether they view writing and music and all those other sorts of art as art, they’ll undoubtedly say yes. They just had to be prompted to make that connection.

I’m not sure what that means about the way we view art. I’m still trying to figure that out as I write my paper. (It’s not the exact topic of the paper, but I feel like understanding that better is a crucial step.)

I think that the broader definition we have of art the better. The Oxford Dictionary defines art as a way that humans express themselves, but goes on to say that this is more often than not visual art. So the idea of visual arts being “real” arts seems quite hardwired into the way we think. But I’m much more interested in the part about expressing ourselves.

Trust me when I say that I can’t express myself through visual art. You don’t want to see that. I can, however, express myself at least somewhat competently through writing. I think there are few people who would argue against writing being as worthy of an expression.

So, if expressing ourselves is what art is all about, then why do we almost seem to have visual arts as our default art?

Note: This was written a while ago, and I happen to be further along in the paper now than I was then. Not really important, but I wanted to mention it.

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