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Early Modern Epistolary Culture: Cutting Edge Workshop  Add To Calendar

“Early Modern Epistolary Culture”
Organized by Nina Dubin, Art History Department


In recent years, scholars across the humanities have brought new and critical attention to the subject of early modern epistolarity, and more specifically to the ways in which the growth of letter writing—with its attendant social, cultural and political implications—effectively changed the course of history. For decades, scholarship on this subject has been dominated by literary studies on eighteenth-century epistolary novels. What distinguishes the new wave of research is in part its focus on material practice: letters are not only texts but also objects—possessed of blotches of ink, signatures, folds and seals—whose histories often involve unintended readers, postal messengers, eventual inheritors, archivists, and others. The proposed workshop would gather the key authors of recent scholarship along with scholars working on epistolarity from a variety of disciplines and at various stages of research.

This growing body of scholarship attests as well to a new emphasis on the visual. Though paintings by the likes of Vermeer and Fragonard of women sending and receiving love letters attest to the aesthetic importance of epistolarity, only now has the subject begun to emerge as a “cutting edge issue” in art history.  Art historians will comprise about half of the workshop’s participants, thus providing a rare opportunity for researchers to consider epistolarity through the lens of the visual arts.

Confirmed participants include:

Shira Brisman, Art History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Jay Caplan, Emeritus Professor of French, Amherst College

Christopher Heuer, Interim Director, Research and Academic Program, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Center

Additional details will be posted.

  • Date(s): Thursday, 4/13 9:00 AM to Thursday, 4/13 5:00 PM
  • Address: 701 S. Morgan St.
  • Location: Chicago, IL, US
  • Contact: Linda Vavra
  • Email: lvavra@uic.edu
  • Phone: 312-996-6352
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