Legerdemain/Gaucherie: Doodle Theory with Barthes and Beckett

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The point of departure of this essay is that, in and at the margins of their writing, Roland Barthes and Samuel Beckett both produced prolific bodies of doodles and drawings. My central claim is that doodling and literary criticism are wedded, and can be made to work together, in unacknowledged ways. Recently, both Barthes’s and Beckett’s bodies of visual work – if, indeed, we can call them work - have been the subject of critical discussion, commentary and public exhibition. As is the case for most inveterate doodlers, for both Barthes and Beckett the space of graphic play seems to represent a reprieve, or a relief, from the exertions of writing: a space in which to vent and procrastinate. Similarly, more conventional literary studies often exhibit a reflexive suspicion of any work of literary criticism that takes doodling as its object as being the product of a certain exhaustion or lack of available impetus. This is the first point of comparison between doodling and criticism as dialogic modes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jul 2022

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