Legerdemain/Gaucherie: Doodle Theory with Barthes and Beckett

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This article stages a dialogue between Roland Barthes and Samuel Beckett by characterizing and comparing their tendencies to indulge in doodles and drawings, both of which have been the subject of increased critical interest (and even public exhibition) in recent years. Surveying such recent criticism, the article begins by connecting Barthes’s and Beckett’s respective ways of drawing to theoretical and aesthetic concerns of their writing. Then, developing the complementary manual metaphors of legerdemain (sleight of hand, manual skill) and gaucherie (left-handedness, awkwardness), the article draws from currents in genetic criticism, New Materialism and ‘weak theory’ to suggest ways in which reading doodles might inform ways of reading texts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-247
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

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