The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is working with The Letters of William Godwin, edited by Pamela Clemit (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011-), to bring new information about Godwin and his correspondence networks to a wider readership. To read more about the project, click here. The second ODNB entry arising from this collaboration has now been published. The […]
Originally posted on John Rylands Library Special Collections Blog: Another in our occasional series describing work being undertaken on some of our less well-known collections. Miriam Wildermuth, an Erasmus student from the Humboldt University, Berlin, has recently been working on several projects in Special Collections, including a catalogue of the Tobias Theodores papers. The Theodores…
Date: 12–14 April 2018
Venue: Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Warburgstraße 26, Hamburg, Germany
Besides administrative documents, letters are among the earliest examples of writing in the history of mankind. At the same time this genre was—and still is—of special persistence within almost all manuscript cultures up to the present day. Belonging primarily to the realm of pragmatic handwriting, letters have become a part of what we nowadays define as literature, and, as objects of religious or aesthetic veneration, of art, too. Under the heading of “Epistolography” letters have been studied as a subfield of History and Literature for a long time. This conference, however, will focus on the material side and its accompanying practices, rather than on content.
To cover relevant phenomena from different cultures and periods the workshop will deal with handwritten documents that are meant for more or less immediate communication. Their formal qualities as a whole strive for accessibility and practicability—even in the case of secret letters—, characterised by the tendency to portability and to limited length. A letter in the narrow sense is, with a very few exceptions, per definitionem unique; even if the manuscript is copied, e.g. as a later reference, its original purpose remains to be bound to the single, unique object spanning the distance of senders and addressees.
The production and use of letters—or other comparable documents meant for communication—is dominated by a loose set of polarities, each set providing a continuum by which a given artefact can be defined: open or closed (secret); private or public; written by one’s own hand (“authentic”) or by a second person; for immediate use (expecting direct response) or mainly for documentary purpose; formal or informal, and others.
The workshop will approach the subject from at least three perspectives:
- We will consider circumstances of production, including choices of materials, writing styles, and matters of different formats that are all related to the various forms and levels of sender and addressee and their relation, be they areal individual, institutions or imagined or transcendent counterparts. For this part letters are also typically strongly marked by authoriality, both on the material and the textual level.
- We will consider circumstances of use, including the relation of transmission and materiality, especially means of protection and the integrity of devices of authentication (envelopes, seals and the like). Besides activities that involve reading (aloud or silent) the most interesting point concerns strategies of safekeeping and archiving. The personal and fragile character of these physical objects has led at an early stage to a compilation of letters as parts of multiple-text manuscripts (MTM), worth a more detailed investigation.
- As a third perspective we would like to discuss phenomena on a more general level, e.g. the role of transmission and adoption of techniques of letter writing between different manuscript cultures, and the development and use of anthologies of formulae, letter writing guides etc., both as material objects by themselves and as instruction guides containing information on material aspects.
Focusing on the relation between material aspects and social practices involving letters the workshop intends to deepen our understanding of the interaction of pragmatic and literate manuscripts from a comparative perspective.
To download the programme and abstracts, to register, and for further information, click here.
URL of original post: https://www.manuscript-cultures.uni-hamburg.de/register_letters2018.html
A great resource!
We’ve been asking some children’s historians about the publications that have inspired them, and here are some of the responses we’ve received so far.
If you have any more suggestions, please let us know! Contact us firstname.lastname@example.org.
A guest post this week: Dr Marie Isabel Matthews-Schlinzig explains the special place writing letters had for German-speakers in the eighteenth century…
Since ancient times, letter writing and friendship have been intimately connected in people’s imagination. For centuries, letters were even defined specifically as ‘a mutual conversation between absent friends’ (to quote from Erasmus’s treatise on letter writing, Opus de conscribendis epistolis, 1522). Correspondence between friends also came to be associated with a distinct epistolary type: the letter of friendship. Such letters were usually characterized by a familiar tone and a level of intimacy not found in other types of letters, e.g. official communication sent from a public institution to a citizen.
In German cultural and literary history, letters of friendship flourished particularly in the eighteenth century. In this period, which has been called both the ‘century of letters’ and the ‘century of friendship’, people began to celebrate personal friendships…
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Title/Type of event: ‘Children’s Traces, One day colloquium
Organizer: Centre for the History of Childhood
Venue: Magdalen College, University of Oxford
Date: 29 June 2018
Deadline for paper proposals: 5 March 2018
This one-day colloquium on the theme of ‘Children’s traces’ examines the politics of visibility. All historians work with traces of the past, but some people leave larger and more long-lasting archival imprints than others. Children are notorious for being difficult to ignore in the present, but hard to find in our historical record. The colloquium will bring together papers that direct a spotlight on how age shapes the visibility of historical actors, across time and place. Which children made themselves (or were made) visible in the historical record? Whose voices do we fail to hear? And what do the shifting contexts in which children made their mark tell us about the society, culture, economy and politics of which they were part? We hope that each paper will use new scholarship on young lives in a particular historical context to draw out wider methodological and historiographical insights about the visibility of children in the past.
The colloquium will focus not only on what made children archivally or textually visible, but also on the new approaches that researchers are taking to uncover and interpret this evidence. We encourage papers that illuminate ways of working with a wide range of sources. These might include children’s diaries and letters, drawings and material objects made by children, published writing by young people, or case files and court records about the young.
Submit your abstracts!
We are also particularly keen to examine questions of how we share insights that emerge from these traces with diverse readerships and audiences. How can we use these archival fragments to form compelling narratives about children’s lives in the past, including when we have no sources penned by children themselves? We encourage papers from archivists, exhibition curators, broadcasters, and film-makers, as well as from those who write and publish history books about children’s lives.
We welcome papers from any disciplinary background and career stage. We anticipate that funding for travel and accommodation will be available, including some travel bursaries to enable graduate students working on the history of childhood to attend.
Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words and a brief bio to email@example.com by Monday 5th March 2018.
Booking is now open for our first of two workshops this semester. To register, please fill out our Google form. Places are limited, and are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
Ethical and Interpretative Issues Workshop, 16 February 2018
This workshop will engage participants in interdisciplinary conversation on the theme of the ethical and interpretative challenges of working with correspondence containing private or sensitive information. The sessions will reflect on issues relating to the handling of this information in the writing of history, whether as used sources for personal or institutional biography or as part of the history writing of larger communities and movements.
This event is co-hosted by the Manchester History of Humanities Research Network.
Conference Room, Graduate School, Ellen Wilkinson Building, University of Manchester Oxford Rd Campus (M13 9PL). Building 77 on the campus map.
Session 1: “Correspondence, Networks and Biography”
[Abstracts for Session…
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