Letters and Letter Writing

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Welcome to the Research Stream
Welcome to the Letters and Letter Writing: Signed, Sealed and Delivered research stream. The letter has been one of the most important forms of communication over thousands of years across many cultures and continents. It varies widely in form, method of delivery and purpose. A particularly striking example survives from ancient Rome in the Letters to Atticus of Marcus Tullius Cicero written between 68-44 BCE. Originally hand written on papyri using a reed pen, they were delivered using a network of slaves often taking up to 4 weeks to reach their destination. Intended only to be read by his friend, this private correspondence was published by an unknown editor sometime after Cicero’s death and enjoyed as a literary work. Now available as both book and hypertext, its rich contents provide valuable information on many aspects of Roman life, not to mention the history of his times.A letter is not just the means to communicate to others, but a way in which we communicate who, what and where we are and the times that we live in, consequently, being as much about the interconnectedness of identity, place and culture through time as it is about the immediate connection to those around us.

Core Themes for Development
Among the core themes to be explored are:

  • The various beginnings, endings and reincarnations of the letter
  • Materials, mediums and platforms of letter writing
  • The technologies and carriers of letters
  • Letters as auto-biography, diary, blog and records of historical moments
  • Private or Public and intended readership
  • The future of the letter

Related themes will also be identified for development and exploration. Out of our deliberations it is anticipated that a series of related cross context research projects will develop.