Reblogged: Announcement: MLA 2017 Special Session on Godwin, Shelley, and Hazlitt — Pamela Clemit

A Special Session will be held at the 2017 MLA Annual Convention (Philadelphia, 5-8 January) on Thursday 5 January, 1:45-3:00 p.m., 104B, Pennsylvania Convention Center. Reloading the Romantic Canon: New Texts and Contexts from Godwin, Shelley, and Hazlitt Until the last two decades of the twentieth century, the canon of British Romantic authors installed by the […]

via Announcement: MLA 2017 Special Session on Godwin, Shelley, and Hazlitt — Pamela Clemit


Regarding a child’s summer holiday postcard – A letter


Dear Reader,

The postcard pictured above was sent on 12 April 1988 from Wadebridge in Cornwall to Oxford. It is one of those cards you yourself might recall having written to your own grandparents during a family summer holiday.


Above is the reverse side. The note underneath the drawing and the address were in all likelihood added by an adult. They identify the card’s author as ‘Jessie’ and the addressee as ‘Granny’. Jessie, apparently, was too young to produce a complex drawing, let alone  write.

You may ask yourself – just as I do – : did child or parents initiate the ‘writing’ of the postcard? who chose it? did the child tell the parent to add the note?

This postcard is a wonderful example of what I would call a ‘composite object’: a letter, postcard, or text/drawing in a different format, that is the result of a collective effort of several authors – in this case: a child and an adult. Their relationship is marked by a complex mix of agency and dependency: the child’s agency seems both curtailed and extended: they depend, for instance, on the parent for a range of activities – such as buying the postcard and adding the correct address; but they are also enabled to participate in ‘grown-up’ correspondence and to express themselves freely – and, in this case, ‘colourfully’.

The parent’s position of power notwithstanding, the traces of their emotional investment, imagination, and enjoyment in taking part in this shared project are also obvious – not least from the little, incomplete smiley appended to the child’s name. By adding the note and addressing the card to ‘Granny’, the parent even assumes the child’s perspective – and with that their ‘voice’; they write not only on their child’s behalf but in their name.

Similar forms of collaborative writing and mutual investment can also be found in late eighteenth-century children’s letters. I am currently working on a case study of the letters written by the children of the German philosopher, theologian and cultural historian Johann Gottfried August Herder in the 1780s and 90s; the period I am particularly concerned with are the years 1788 / 89 during which Herder travelled to Italy.

The first results of my research on this material will be published in a collection of essays entitled Was ist ein Brief? – Aufsätze zu epistolarer Theorie und Kultur / What is a letter? Essays on epistolary theory and culture which Caroline Socha (Basel/Switzerland) and I are currently preparing for publication with Königshausen & Neumann. If you, dear Reader, would like to read more about children’s correspondence and maybe, also, about epistolary theory and cultures more generally, this book might be of interest to you.

Quite independently of that, I very much hope you enjoyed this short missive and that you will come back in time for more.

Sincerely yours,

Marie Isabel Matthews-Schlinzig

PS: I chanced upon the postcard pictured above in one of Oxford’s many Oxfam shops. I also found a few others there which I might share with you at a later stage. If you happen to be ‘Jessie’ or know (of) them, I would appreciate it very much if you could get in touch.


Conference: Speaking in Absence: Letters in the Digital Age (Tuesday 21 June 2016 – Weston Library and Wolfson College, Oxford)

Description: The conference is a one-day, interdisciplinary, student-led conversation on how we engage with handwritten letters in the digital age. We aim to explore the potential for collaboration between academics, librarians, technicians, editors, and publishers for the creation of mutual frameworks within which to use the digital as a means to supplement the analogue. We have chosen correspondence as a vehicle for this exploration because in the age of social media, its nature raises immediate and intriguing questions about the progression from material object to digital resource.

Daytime activities at the Weston Library will include an opening lecture on editing letters by Christopher Ricks (Co-director, Boston University Editorial Institute), a panel discussion with the leaders of pioneering digital editing projects (Electronic Enlightenment, Darwin Correspondence Project, and Cultures of Knowledge), a demonstration of the process of digitizing letters by Miranda Lewis (Digital Editor, Early Modern Letters Online), a visual tour of correspondence in the Bodleian collections led by Special Collections curators, and a panel on publishing with representatives from Oxford University Press and Blackwell’s.

It will also include the launch (with discussion) of Bodleian Student Editions, a digital scholarly editing course organised as a collaboration between the Bodleian’s Department of Special Collections, Centre for Digital Scholarship, and Early Modern Letters Online, and we warmly invite students to join the discussion. There is a limited number of subsidised undergraduate bursaries available so please register quickly!

From the Weston Library, delegates will then proceed to Wolfson College for a further panel discussion with writers and directors, and drinks reception with research posters by postgraduate students.

The conference is organised by students as part of the TORCH-OCLW annual postgraduate conference competition, and is additionally sponsored by the Bodleian Libraries and Balliol Interdisciplinary Institute.

The conference fee (£45 / limited number of subsidised undergraduate places at £20) includes refreshments throughout the day (breakfast, lunch, two coffee breaks, drinks reception). The conference dinner (£30) must be booked separately. For the full programme and instructions on registration options, please click here.

Registration is now open.

If you have any questions please contact

Upcoming conference on the history of childhood (including papers on children and letters)

Horrible Histories? Children’s Lives in Historical Contexts

16-18 June 2016, King’s College London

Theme and Focus

It is now over forty years since the bold declaration of psychohistorian Lloyd deMause that ‘The history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken’. Stirred by such claims, scholars have subsequently tested the ‘nightmare thesis’ for both the pre-modern and modern eras, locating children’s agency in unexpected places and stressing the contingencies of context, gender, ethnicity, age, class, caste and sexuality. Narratives of historic and contemporary institutional abuse, however, together with insights concerning the legacies of forced child migration, children’s labours and other challenging aspects of childhood experience, suggest that sorrow rather than joy characterises much scholarship on children and childhood. Should this be so?

In another context, since 1993 the phenomenally successful Horrible Historiesbooks, stage plays and television series have helped introduce countless thousands of children around the world to the past. As their titles indicate, Horrible Histories also examine difficult and sometimes grisly historical episodes. Progressive narratives are at work here too, reinforced by children’s museum exhibits emphasising an emergence from the ‘dark ages’ of childhood in the twentieth century.

‘Horrible Histories? Children’s Lives in Historical Contexts’ is the launch conference marking the inauguration of the new UK-based Children’s History Society. Offering a forum for historical reflections from established and upcoming historians of children, childhood and youth, we also anticipate that this will be a platform for school-age scholars to reflect on the ways they respond to the history. This three-day conference will host papers on the following themes:

  • Dealing with difficult history and heritage
  • Children’s histories and the longue durée
  • The ‘West and the rest’ in children’s history
  • Definitions of subjecthood and status
  • Pain and resilience
  • Archival approaches for retrieving children’s agency
  • The things of childhood
  • Play as protest, recreation and the ‘work’ of childhood
  • Children’s histories in museums, online and in the media
  • The histories of children’s places and places for children
  • Future trajectories for researching children’s histories

Note that our definition of children is flexible, reflecting the multiple constructions through time of childhood as a social category.

A complete programme can be found here.

Source: (additional information available there)


Reblogged: post on children’s correspondence


In 1954, the General Assembly of the UN recommended that all countries institute a Universal Children’s Day. International Children’s Day is recognized on various days around the world (you can see a full list of dates here). Many countries have chosen to celebrate on June 1, as this is when the World Conference for the Well-being […]

via Children’s Correspondence — University of Glasgow Library

COST Action: Reassembling the Republic of Letters; Second Annual Conference (Warsaw)

12th – 15th June 2016, University of Warsaw Conference Room, Level -1.
Faculty of “Artes Liberales”
Dobra Street 72

From the conference programme:

The COST Action IS 1310 “Reassembling the Republic of Letters” is in its third year of work towards assembling the blueprint of trans-national digital infrastructure to support collaborative work on early modern intellectual history. Having previously explored scholarly work from the perspective of shared technical standards, this conference will pursue the opposite path: digital functionality will be discussed from the perspective of current scholarly strands about the Republic of Letters. Following the structural logic of the Action’s working groups, the topics addressed will include (amongst others) intellectual geography; the social history of knowledge and network analysis; topic modelling and conceptual history; descriptive techniques and the material turn; visualization and the visual turn.

The full conference programme is available here.

URL of project website:

„nur Frauen können Briefe schreiben“ – Facetten weiblicher Briefkultur nach 1750

Wissenschaftliche Tagung des Instituts für Germanische Philologie der Jagiellonen-Universität Krakau und des Instituts für Germanische Philologie der Schlesischen Universität Katowice

in Partnerschaft mit dem Institut für Germanistik der Universität Leipzig und unter Mitwirkung der Interdisziplinären Forschungsgruppe zur Kultur des Mittelalters und der Frühen Neuzeit bei der Universität Warschau

Ort: Krakau, Polen
Datum: 3.–5. März 2017

In einer Reaktion auf die Worte Rahel Levins, späterer Varnhagen, schreibt David Veit am 20. November 1795: „diesen Brief […] hat nur eine vollkommene Frau schreiben können. Jeder Lumpenhund sagt: nur Weiber können Briefe schreiben; denn Briefe erfordern eine Leichtigkeit, ein ungezwungenes Uebergehen von einer Materie zur andern, und Männer bleiben immer bei der Schnur“. Veit richtet diese Sätze an eine der prominentesten Briefeschreiberinnen des späten 18. und des frühen 19. Jahrhunderts in Deutschland, die sich u.a. durch ihre intensiv geführten und zahlreichen Korrespondenzen einen festen Platz in der europäischen Kulturgeschichte und in der literaturwissenschaftlichen Forschung gesichert hat. Der größte Teil ihres Briefwechsels wird dabei in Folge der Kriegswirren neben unzähligen anderen Korrespondenzen aus diversen Nachlässen der berühmten Frauen der europäischen Kulturgeschichte in der Krakauer Jagiellonen-Bibliothek aufbewahrt.
Diesen Umstand und die Worte Veits wollen wir daher als Ansporn zu einer intensiveren Auseinandersetzung mit dem Phänomen des weiblichen Briefeschreibens nehmen. Mit Teilnehmerinnen und Teilnehmern der für 3.–5. März 2017 geplanten Tagung wollen wir dabei auf die damit verbundenen Fragen zu antworten suchen: Kann man von einer weiblichen Briefkultur als solcher sprechen? Wenn ja, was kennzeichnet sie und was sind ihre distinktiven Merkmale? Wie verlief ihre historische Entwicklung und was waren deren Bestimmungsfaktoren? Wie gestaltete sich die Ästhetik des weiblichen Briefs? Welche Rolle spielten dabei politische, gesellschaftliche und kulturelle Umwälzungen? Wer waren die Hauptakteurinnen, Hauptakteure und Korrespondenten? Welchen theoretischen Konzepten folgte die epistolare Praxis der Frauen, ob überhaupt? Wie sahen und sehen institutionelle, soziale und materielle Rahmen der weiblichen Korrespondenzen aus? …

Zur Auseinandersetzung mit diesen und weiteren Fragen laden wir Kolleginnen und Kollegen ein, die mit der Briefforschung nachweisbar beschäftigt sind und die ihre Arbeitsergebnisse in Krakau präsentieren und zur Diskussion stellen möchten. Als historisches Eckdatum setzen wir dabei 1750 an und gehen davon aus, dass im Mittelpunkt der Tagung in erster Linie Briefe von Frauen des späten 18. und des 19. Jahrhunderts stehen werden, willkommen sind aber auch Beiträge, in denen die einschlägigen Aspekte in den späteren Dezennien bzw. Jahrhunderten erforscht und weiter verfolgt werden. Als die in Frage kommenden Themenblöcke schlagen wir u.a. vor:

  • Frauenbriefe im europäischen Kulturraum,
  • Konzepte, Normen und Praktiken weiblichen Briefeschreibens (Briefsteller, Ratgeber, Briefthematisierung in Briefen, historische Entwicklungslinien, Bestimmungsfaktoren, Schreibstrategien, Monologizität vs. Dialogizität, Selbstinszenierung, Brief als Schreibwerkstatt usw.),
  • Briefautorinnen und ihre Korrespondenten nach 1750 (Briefnetzwerke, Tendenzen, Themen, Inhalte, Interpretationen, Herangehensweisen),
  • Ästhetik des Frauenbriefs,
  • Imaginierte Weiblichkeit in Briefen, fiktionale Frauenbriefe, weibliche Briefromane
  • Materialität (Handschriften (vorzugsweise in den Beständen der Jagiellonen-Bibliothek Krakau), Kuverts, Layouts, Brief im digitalen Zeitalter usw.),
  • Ende der weiblichen Briefkultur?
  • Briefarchive, Briefnachlässe, Editionen,
  • Briefrezeption und Briefforschung heute.

Die Tagung selbst wird zusätzlich von einer Ausstellung der Handschriften und Artefakte aus den Beständen der Jagiellonen-Bibliothek Krakau, die auch unser Partner bei dieser Veranstaltung sein wird, begleitet werden.

Anmeldungen mit einem stichwortartigen Exposé und einer kurzen Vita: bis 20.07.2016. Benutzen Sie bitte hierzu das Formular:

Vortragsdauer: 20 Minuten + 10 Min. Diskussion
Tagungssprache: Deutsch

Die Tagungsgebühr in Höhe von 350 Zl / 85 Euro umfasst Zuschuss zu Publikationskosten, Kaffeepausen und Imbiss-Büffet vor Ort. Die Organisatoren bemühen sich auch um zusätzliche Förderung der Tagung. Zum jetzigen Zeitpunkt können jedoch keine verbindlichen Informationen und Zusagen gemacht werden. Die Kontonummer wird nach der angenommenen Anmeldung mittgeteilt.


Organisatoren: Dr. Paweł Zarychta (Institut für Germanische Philologie, Jagiellonen-Universität Krakau), Dr. habil. Renata Dampc-Jarosz (Institut für Germanische Philologie, Schlesische Universität Katowice)

Wissenschaftlicher Beirat: Prof. Dr. habil. Maria Kłańska, Pof. Dr. habil. Grażyna Szewczyk, Dieter Burdorf,

Organisationskomitee: Dr. Agnieszka Sowa, Dr. Magdalena Popławska, Dr. Michael Sobczak, Dr. Paweł Moskała

Ausschreibung auf H-Germanistik.