Letter-writing and emotions

Book chapter

James, Carolyn and O'Leary, Jessica. (2020) Letter-writing and emotions. In In A. Lynch and S. Broomhall (Ed.). The Routledge History of Emotions in Europe: 1100-1700 pp. 256 - 268 Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315190778-17
AuthorsJames, Carolyn and O'Leary, Jessica
EditorsA. Lynch and S. Broomhall

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.

Page range256 - 268
Book titleThe Routledge History of Emotions in Europe: 1100-1700
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
SeriesThe Routledge histories
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315190778-17
Research GroupInstitute for Humanities and Social Sciences
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