How do you draw an idea? What ideas do you draw?
While pursuing a PhD in English, Jojo Karlin wanted to address these questions. In her illustrated dissertation, Yours Sincerely, Virginia Woolf: Virginia Woolf’s Poetics of Letter Writing, she sought to draw out the moments that made Woolf’s letters connect. Drawing was both a way of reading the conversations between correspondents and a way of sketching the places of the letter writers, figuring out the contours of certain turns of phrases, and drawing out the connections between the writer and addressee, as well as the later, distant unplanned readers.
Jojo is still working on the role of drawing in intellectual conversation. As she began her postdoctoral fellowship at New York University, she wondered how to draw together the various places synchronously meeting in virtual spaces. By illustrating speakers at video conferences, she used portraiture and visual notes to bring distant speakers onto a single page. See this new interview about her Zoom sketching by Noelle Barr.
Jojo even won a prize presenting her dissertation, “Yours Sincerely, Virginia Woolf: Virginia Woolf’s Poetics of Letter Writing,” at the fourth annual Dissertation Showcase on May 19, 2021.
You can read an interview about Jojo’s drawing at NYU Libraries on the Libraries blog, November 9th, 2020.
You can see images from Jojo’s conference sketches at University of Toronto’s Book History and Print Culture Colloquium, March 5-6, 2021, as originally published on Twitter in real-time, or by visiting Illustrations on the BHPC website.
You can hear more about this project on Kathleen Collins’s podcast Indoor Voices: Episode 57, April 12, 2021.