Luke Iandoli

Date of Award


First Advisor

Chris Coggins

Second Advisor

Asma Abbas


This thesis seeks to illuminate the unique form in which rock climbing is practiced. By focusing on the language of the sport, I illustrate the telluric properties of the jargon and emphasize the prodigious materiality in the language. I show that the arena in which climbing happens is an open and public space which is formed and preserved by the recollection and sharing of words: words to describe technique and location; words which name and qualify. This first part is titled “Cities of Words and Chalk” in homage to the writing of Ludwig Wittgenstiein. Alongside Wittgenstien I draw heavily on the writing of Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault. Following the account of how climbing crags form and persevere I perform a more creative and playful ascent into the existential, quixotic and ironic mien of the sport. I include anecdotes and quotations from Chuang Tzu among others. This thesis depicts the crag as a locality that houses a community replete with idiosyncratic language, stories and ethics.

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