Olivia Badoi is a researcher at the Global Institute for Research, Education, and Scholarship. She is currently at work on her first book, Arboreal Modernism and the Woodcut Novel, an ecocritical and transnational exploration of the wordless woodcut novel.
Walking among a series of prints by the American wood engraver Lynd Ward (1905–85), Art Spiegelman was surprised to find himself transported from a chic Binghamton art gallery into a primordial forest. Though he had not left the gallery, Spiegelman was surrounded by networks of branches, trees, and woods reaching out at him from the prints on the wall. Within this gallery-turned-forest, Spiegelman gained a new appreciation of the power of Ward’s arboreal aesthetic. Singling out a particularly noteworthy print, Spiegelman describes “a panoramic treescape of a young man in shadows, groping and climbing through the dense neuronal wickerwork of dappled trunks and branches, carefully exploring and working his way through the maze of marks that surround him.”
There is always some degree of confusion when I tell people that I am getting my PhD in English by writing a dissertation about wordless novels. While I’m used to giving my “elevator pitch” to fellow academics, describing my project to people outside of academia can be more of a challenge: