> classes > experimental writing, spring 2014

Lexical Imperialism

by Elise Ruan

"Some day, following the example of the United States of America, there will be a United States of Europe"

-George Washington

'Lexical Imperialism' consists of stanzas that represent countries in Europe using excerpts from the countries' Wikipedia pages. Lines were segmented based on the shape and size of the countries, while the sharing of borders between countries is reflected as the sharing of words between stanzas. A few countries are depicted below, with different colors indicating different countries.


Portugal borders Spain


Spain borders Portugal, France and Andorra


Andorra borders Spain


France borders Andorra, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Italy


Belgium borders France, The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg


Luxembourg borders France, Germany, and Belgium

The Netherlands

The Netherlands borders Belgium and Germany


The stanzas were created starting with Portugal as it is mainly coastal and only borders one country. The lines were taken from online articles about Portugal. The lines were segmented so that the stanza reflected the shape of the country. The final words were used as a border and as a starting point for finding the excerpts used in the bordering country's stanza. The process was repeated moving more or less west to east across the continent. The method reflects the movement of culture and ideas that occur when countries share a border.


The theme was chosen due to my experiences traveling where often countries share many more similarities due to proximity and shared history. I first experimented with selecting a few words in a stanza and writing a new stanza with the words in the same place/order. However, the constraint didn't seem restrictive enough and the results, while interesting wasn't much of a commentary. This theme, using text from online resources about countries helps show the commonalities between countries and how the size and location can greatly alter our perception of it.

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