The symposium ‘What is a letter? An interdisciplinary approach’ will bring together experts on letter writing from a diverse range of disciplines (including literary and cultural studies in a number of modern languages, linguistics, editorial studies, sociology, and postal history), countries (including Austria, Britain, and Germany), and institutions (including universities, museums, and libraries).
Against the background of a rapidly and internationally growing number of research and editing projects which centre around letters, the aim of the symposium is threefold: (i) to initiate a much-needed dialogue between disciplines (and scholars from different countries) about the theoretical concepts of ‘the letter’ which form the basis for any engagement with epistolary culture; (ii) to lay the foundations for an inclusive and interdisciplinary methodology for analysing letters, taking into account their subject-specific definitions and uses, and (iii) to make the results of these efforts available to other scholars through publication of the conference proceedings.
The symposium will comprise four sections, which cover key aspects of letters, letter writing, and the reception and study of both: (i) Models and Terminologies, (ii) Mediality and Materiality, (iii) Performance and Interaction, (iv) Editing and Commenting. In addition to that, there will be a workshop on interpreting a selection of letters, and a seminar in the Bodleian Library, which will introduce speakers and invited guests to the library’s letter collections.
Please note: English and German are the working languages of the symposium. An interpreter will be present to summarize papers and assist with the discussion.
Registration is now open.The conference fee is £18, payable in advance (ideally by cheque) or on the day; partial attendance is possible. Please note that places are limited and are available on a first-come first-served basis.