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Hoffmann’s Signature Doodles

Dickson, Polly

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As scholars familiar with his manuscripts and drawings will know, E.T.A. Hoffmann had the idiosyncratic and rather charming habit of signing off some of his informal letters not with a signature in the conventional sense, but with a spontaneous self-portrait: a doodle. The aim of this article is to examine such forms by framing them within the context of a broader question about Hoffmann’s doodles and drawings. Specifically, it places his ‘signature doodles’ at the centre of a graphic conversation between the contingencies of the medium and an impulse towards meaningful form. It is in that sense that they open up a space for new reflections on the author’s relationship to writing and drawing, registering a vision of the author not as an authorizing or authoritative entity, held above and separate from the work, but rather as a peculiar entanglement of self and work, whose identity is defined and confirmed from within the act of composition.


Dickson, P. (2022). Hoffmann’s Signature Doodles. Literatur für Leser, 45(1), 77-91.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 1, 2023
Publication Date Jan 1, 2022
Deposit Date Apr 12, 2024
Publicly Available Date Apr 15, 2024
Journal Literatur für Leser:innen
Print ISSN 0343-1657
Publisher Peter Lang Academic Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 45
Issue 1
Pages 77-91
Public URL


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