Date of Degree

9-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

English

Advisor

Nancy K. Miller

Committee Members

Wayne Koestenbaum

Matthew K. Gold

Mary Ann Caws

Subject Categories

Art Practice | English Language and Literature | Illustration | Interdisciplinary Arts and Media | Literature in English, British Isles | Women's Studies

Keywords

Communications, Research creation, Women’s studies, Life writing, Graphic memoir, British modernism, England

Abstract

This non-traditional dissertation treats the currency of letters that circulates within the humdrum administration of postage, collection, and preservation. A drawing, like a letter, is both formulaic and spontaneous; it is in part an exercise in observation. Letters, moreover, offer a palette for observing human interactions. By illustrating with watercolor moments from Virginia Woolf’s letters— engagements with concepts of letter writing’s materiality and form—I analyze Virginia Woolf’s poetics of letter writing. In each chapter, I explore a facet of Virginia Woolf’s correspondence: the basics of epistolary form, its political potential, and the friendships between writers as they exist on paper. I explore the patterns within the exchanges, and the nature of the relationships enacted by mail.

Note to Readers:

Coming from a digital humanities perspective, I composed and drew this dissertation. Operating adjacent to the bounds of traditional disciplinary standards, I used fixed formatting of images and words on page to consider the effects each has on the argument. To this end, I created a 6x9” book, deliberately laying out pages using Adobe InDesign. Using current publication software and fonts (Adobe Caslon), I mimicked the look of early publications by the Hogarth Press. Because self-publishing (and editing and publishing others’ works) was an important aspect of Virginia Woolf’s writing, and book binding a common activity, I decided to create a book of my own. Creating the object itself was necessary to my argument that personal and self driven processes contribute to both the effect and purpose of correspondence. Form supports meaning, even as it fails to conform to disciplinary standards.

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