Lives and Letters

This strand draws together a broad range of periods, disciplines, and approaches to investigate letters and letter writing. It is devoted to an understanding and appreciation of letters as repositories of complex meaning. This specific mode of communication creates unique possibilities that weave together the textual, visual, material, biographical, and cultural.

The strand is especially active in areas that explain methodologies and produce new ways of understanding lives through correspondence, whether individual or collective. It also finds different manuscript cultures and technologies fascinating areas to explore anew the special insights letters make available. At once both rhetorical and confessional, letters occupy a position as a genre in its own right, with a literary and historical narrative of processes and materialities that allows a distinctive intimacy with the past.

‘Lives and Letters’ is hosted and supported by the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing at Wolfson College, which seeks to widen the platform for conversations and collaborations in the epistolary genre, providing an established space for research and events. It will also help to make visible the various research projects, networks, editorial projects, and other enterprises both within and beyond Oxford.

The strand is co-ordinated by John Francis Davies, a Visiting Doctoral Scholarship candidate at OCLW, supported by a fully-funded Research Investment Fund Studentship at the University of Lincoln. At Harvard University, he is Joan Nordell Fellow at Houghton, and recipient of the Fellowship award, 2016-17. His doctorate is entitled, ‘Tennyson in the Archive: Transmission and Materiality in Early Manuscripts, 1827-1851.’ John also runs the OCLW Tea Talks each term at Wolfson College, where Visiting Scholars, ECRs, and Fellows present and receive feedback on research in progress.

Upcoming Lives and Letters Events:

Wednesday 25th October 5.30 – 7pm, Tennyson, Celebrity and Portraiture
Jim Cheshire, University of Lincoln.

Tuesday 21 November 5:30 – 7pm, Letter writing panel
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst; Matt Bevis; Hugh Haughton.

See all this Term’s Events



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