Drawing in the Margins: Understanding Doodles

By Elena Slobtseva.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The aim of this paper is to raise the level of discussion of doodles and the doodling practice and pave way to further observations about them within the fields of art, cultural and literary studies. Doodling is viewed as a marginal activity framed by broad implications of marginality that are borrowed from postmodern theory, textual and cultural studies. The doodle’s marginal position is viewed in its connection to writing understood metaphorically as the law, center, authority of language and civilization with their requirements to produce meaning and compromise. As a practice connected with 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, affirm one’s being in the face of the civilization pressures and helps improve somewhat a negative situation imposed on the person. To explicate the mechanism of resistance in doodling, this drawing activity is paralleled with Catherine Clement’s notion of syncope.

Keywords: Cultural Studies, Margins, Resistance, Marginalia, Doodles, Drawing, Writing

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.87-96. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 780.380KB).

Elena Slobtseva

The English teacher in Perm State Univeristy, Russia, The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Perm, Russia, 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. Her M.A. thesis project was devoted to the practice of doodling and its aim was to put this casual mindless activity into the postmodern context with its emphasis on the issues of resistance and marginality. She is currently teaching English at Perm State University, Russia. She is also a practicing artist with the interests in painting, drawing and digital art. Elena’s research interests include cultural studies, literature and the interaction of visual and verbal arts.


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