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To the Letter: Contemporary Perspectives on Epistolarity Symposium, 23-24 April 2008

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Letters are often seen in the humanities as giving insight into the more 'personal' aspects of creativity or political life (for instance, the letters of Rupert Brooke, Lytton Strachey; the letters of Thomas Jefferson, Harold Macmillan). An interest in epistolarity more generally originated in the social sciences in the 20th century, focused on their social dimensions, as a series of reciprocal exchanges in time, and as a window on the processes of 'becoming' over such temporal exchanges. More recent theorisations of epistolarity have spanned the humanities and social sciences and picked up on the porous quality of epistolarity as a genre, recognising that it gave rise to many other genres, is extremely responsive to social milieu.

This two-day symposium provided an interdisciplinary space to explore these and other features of epistolarity, in theoretical, methodological and substantive contributions. As well as the interest in 'traditional' (which are in fact historically specific) kinds of letters, the symposium provides a locus for exploring contemporary changes in social forms and interpersonal 'becomings' concerning epistolary forms of expression, including in video letters, txt and email.

Keynote speakers: Professor Liz Stanley and Professor Gillian Whitlock (Queensland).


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