Tag Archives: letter theory

Out now: ‘Was ist ein Brief? – What is a letter?’

matthews-schlinzig_socha_was ist ein brief_cover

Dear readers,

we, the curators of this blog, are very pleased to announce that our edited collection Was ist ein Brief? – Aufsätze zu epistolarer Theorie und Kultur. What is a letter? – Essays on epistolary theory and culture is now available from Königshausen & Neumann.

Our warmest thanks go to the authors who contributed to this volume.

Your sincerely,

Marie Isabel Matthews-Schlinzig and Caroline Socha


PS: Table of contents

Marie Isabel Matthews-Schlinzig / Caroline Socha: Von einfachen Fragen, oder: Ein Brief zur Einführung


I. Konzepte des Briefes / Conceptualizing letters

Michael Sinding: Letterier: categories, genres, and epistolarity

Nicholas Cronk: Generic instability in Voltaire’s correspondence: When is a letter not a letter?

Robert Vellusig: Die Poesie des Briefes. Eine literaturanthropologische Skizze

Inka Kording: Epistolarisches. Die achtfache Relationalität des Briefes

Jochen Strobel: Welchen Erkenntnisgewinn versprechen digitale Briefeditionen?

II. Ein Medium im Wandel / A changing medium

Grace Egan: Epistolary valediction in Johnson and Thrale’s correspondence

Julia Gillen: ‘I should have wrote a letter tonight’: A Literacy Studies perspective on the Edwardian postcard

Alan Scott: Letters 2.0? Linguistic insights into the extent to which social media are a substitute for personal letters

Emma de Vries: Letters in/on transition: neo-epistolarity, nostalgia, and new media

III. Schreibkulturen / Cultures of writing

Patrick Reinard: Briefe auf Papyri und Ostraka. Bemerkungen zur quellenkritischen Auswertung in der althistorischen Forschung

Lik Hang Tsui: Calligraphic letters as precious objects in Chinese history

Lena Vosding: Gifts from the convent: the letters of the Benedictine Nuns at Lüne as the material manifestation of spiritual care

Marie Isabel Matthews-Schlinzig: Collaboration and imagination in letters between parents and their children: The Herder family correspondence 1788–89


Autorinnen und Autoren / Contributors



A short update regarding the symposium ‘What is a letter? An interdisciplinary approach’

As mentioned in an earlier post, the response to our Call for Papers was impressive: we received more than 75 proposals from scholars working in a range of institutions, disciplines, and countries, the latter including Argentine, Australia, Austria, Canada, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the USA.

This goes to show that letter research is a truly international, interdisciplinary, and thriving field worthy of attention (and, for that matter, funding).

Caroline Socha and I have begun to notify those whose proposals we have accepted and everyone whose submission we will, unfortunately, not be able to include. If you have not heard from myself or my colleague, yet, please bear with us for a little longer. We wilI get in touch as soon as possible.

I would like to use this opportunity to again thank everyone who contacted us. Please stay in touch, either via email or via this blog which welcomes contributions and suggestions. If you are organizing or hear about a letter-related event, be it a workshop, a conference, or an exhibition, or if you simply want to share the fruits of your research, or your thoughts on letters and letter writing, please let us know.

PS: As of now,  there is some advance information about the symposium programme and venue available here; more detailed information to follow in due course.

CFP: What is a letter? An interdisciplinary approach

The deadline for submitting proposals has now passed. We received a great number of very promising proposals from (almost) all around the globe. Thank you! to everyone who contacted us.

My colleague, Caroline Socha, and I, are hoping to finalise the symposium’s programme by the end of March.

More details to follow soon. Watch this space.


What is a letter? An interdisciplinary approach

An international symposium, Oxford (UK) from 2 to 4 July 2014

Deadline for submitting abstracts: 3 March 2014

Over recent years the number of studies, conferences, international networks, and editorial projects which focus on letters, letter writers, and letter-writing cultures has grown remarkably. As a result, our understanding of the letter as a form of text, as a material object, and as a generator or reflector of social norms and cultural practices has become more nuanced. However, at the same time our concept of the letter has become less well defined, as theoretical aspects of the epistolary form have not received comparable attention. The topical, interdisciplinary discussion of what exactly a ‘letter’ is and what terms and methods one should adopt to deal with it, is still very much in its infancy.

There are many questions to answer: Continue reading