Conventional Correspondence

Epistolary Culture of the Dutch Elite, 1770-1850

Series:

Egodocuments are cherished because of the view they supposedly provide into the innermost feelings of individuals in past and present. Recent research, however, has shown the complexity of genres like autobiographies, diaries and letters. Building on critical and historical research into autobiographical writing, this book describes epistolary practices of the Dutch elite in the period 1770-1850. Analysing how cultural ideals of sincerity, individuality and naturalness influenced the style and contents of letters, the book also addresses the functions of letter writing in family life, like the formation of an adolescent identity and the relationship between parents and children. Correspondence was a vital means by which class and gender identities were performed and the appropriate emotions were shaped.
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Biographical Note

Willemijn Ruberg is Assistant Professor in Cultural History at Utrecht University. Her research and teaching interests include the history of autobiographical writing, gender, emotion, sexuality and the body in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Table of contents

List of Figures

Introduction

1. Epistolary Theory
Introduction
Etiquette books and letter-writing manuals as a source Epistolary theory
Epistolary theory in practice
Famous letter-writers as a model
Conclusion

2. Everyday correspondence
Introduction
Writing materials and a place to write
Post
Languages
Salutation, signature and postscript
‘Le stile c’est l’homme’ – style
Themes and taboos
Receiving a letter
Conclusion

3. Children’s letters
Introduction
Learning to write letters
Confidentiality, naturalness and individuality Character building
Conclusion

4. Adolescents’ letters
Introduction
From schoolboy to student
Adolescents’ letters and gender
Engagement
Conclusion

5. Ceremonial correspondence
Introduction
Means of communication and customs
The content of ceremonial letters
The function of ceremonial correspondence
Cult of sincerity
Conclusion

Conclusion

Appendices
Bibliography
Index

Readership

All those interested in the history of autobiographical writing, family and gender history, the history of emotions and childhood.

Information

Collection Information