Drawing in the Margins: Understanding Doodles

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Building on theoretical perspectives based on the texts of Sigmund Freud, Anton Ehrenzweig, Alfred Adler, Jacques Derrida, Christine Clement, Julia Kristeva and others, this paper explores the ways to discuss doodling as a marginal activity that opens up possibilities for the doodling subject’s resistance. The doodles’ marginal position is viewed within the two contexts in the paper: in reference to the margins of the consciousness and in connection to writing understood metaphorically as the law, center, authority of language and civilization with their requirements to produce meaning and compromise. To explicate the mechanism of resistance in doodling, this drawing activity is paralleled with syncope (Catherine Clement) and intimate revolt (Julia Kristeva). As a practice connected with the educational institutions, doodling poses the questions of teacher-student interaction, of the relations between the institution’s authorities and their subordinates. Doodling is often considered inappropriate and it is constantly being censored or prohibited but the paper argues that its value should be reinstated as it helps retain the subject’s intimacy in the face of the civilization pressures and helps improve somewhat a negative situation imposed on the person. The growing attention to marginalia these days the disruption of the “center” also raise the question of artistic and aesthetic value of doodles, as artists are exhibiting their doodles and books of doodles are being published. The author of the paper will supply this stream of the discussion with her own doodles that were exhibited in 2007 as a part of a group exhibition in Russia.


Keywords: Cultural studies, Theory, Doodles, Drawing, Margins, Resistance
Stream: Art and Education, Meaning and Representation
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
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Elena Slobtseva

Teacher, The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Perm State Univeristy
Perm, Russian Federation

Elena Slobtseva is a holder of M.A. in literature and textual studies, from Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA where she was on a Fulbright grant in 2005-2006. She holds B.A. in literature and English from Perm State University, Russia. Her M.A. thesis project was devoted to the practice of doodling and its aim was to put tis casual “mindless” activity into the postmodern context with its emphasis on the issues of resistance and marginality. She is currently teaching English in Perm State University, Russia. She is also a practicing artist with the interests in painting, photography and media art.Her research interests include: interaction of visual and verbal arts, theory, literary studies and art history.

Ref: A07P0131