Letter-writing and emotions

Carolyn James, Jessica O'Leary

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Understanding how premodern letter-writers employed emotional scripts offers an additional lens with which to understand the socio-cultural context in which letters were produced. Letter-writing was almost entirely an elite affair in the late medieval centuries. The formulaic rules of the ars dictaminis guided the structure and general stylistic approach of the letters, the standard phrases associated with the expression of amity might be manipulated in subtly different ways by writers for a variety of purposes. Early modern epistolary culture might usefully be distinguished from its medieval counterpart as literacy and postal systems improved in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, permitted greater numbers of people to redress distance and maintain relationships by writing to each other. The convincing conveyance of sincerity continued to be of critical importance to correspondents, since, without the perceived presence of a writer’s emotional state, the letter’s contents were considered insignificant.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge History of Emotions in Europe
Subtitle of host publication1100-1700
EditorsAndrew Lynch, Susan Broomhall
Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781315190778
ISBN (Print)9781138727625
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameThe Routledge Histories

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