Using Fractals to Undermine Familiarity

Implementing Writing Pedagogy through the Operations of Shape and Chance


  • Ravi Shankar Central Connecticut State University



fractals, creativity, chance, pedagogy


More than mere mathematical form, the fractal and other processes of chance can be used to help spur creative writing in new directions. From the inception of the I Ching, some form of constraint and the use of chance operations have been employed for centuries to free the creative impulse from overdetermination. This essay explores how one writer uses the flux of chaos both in the classroom and in his own writing, from collaborations to specifically designed writing exercises that help free the unconscious mind while still providing a sturdy architecture for perception.

Author Biography

Ravi Shankar, Central Connecticut State University

Ravi Shankar is Associate Professor of English at Central Connecticut State University, founding editor and Executive Director of Drunken Boat, the international online journal of the arts, and Chairman of the Connecticut Young Writers Trust. He has published or edited seven books or chapbooks of poetry, including the 2010 National Poetry Review Prize winner, Deepening Groove (National Poetry Review). Along with Tina Chang and Nathalie Handal, he edited Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from Asia, the Middle East & Beyond (W.W Norton & Co.), called “a beautiful achievement for world literature” by Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer. He has won a Pushcart Prize, been featured in The New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education, appeared on the BBC and NPR, and has performed his work around the world. He is currently on the faculty of the first international MFA Program at City University of Hong Kong.



How to Cite

Shankar, R. (2012). Using Fractals to Undermine Familiarity: Implementing Writing Pedagogy through the Operations of Shape and Chance. Writing and Pedagogy, 4(2), 297–303.



Reflections on Practice