SEASECS 2015 Undergraduate Panel Proposal:
Terms of Endearment: Love Letters of the Literary
The letter figures heavily during the Early Modern period, a time of prolific letter writing by both real and fictional personalities. From the personal correspondence of aristocrats like Madame de Sévigné and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu to the epistolary fiction of Richardson’s Clarissa, Rousseau’s Héloïse, and so many others that filled bookshelves across the European continent and into the Americas, the letter was an omnipresent means of communication.
This panel proposes to leave fictional works behind and focus on the actual correspondence of the period’s literary elite. Although many of these personal letters were written with the idea of publication or, at the least, distribution in salons and literary circles, private letters were also a prominent part of the daily ritual of many prominent authors and celebrities. Written to their families, friends, mentors, or professional associates, these letters provide insight into the “quotidian,” the everyday aspects of Early Modern relationships. These writings touch on topics of historical and political significance, they document cultural ideas, and they sometimes offer a rare intimate gaze into secrets of their authors. It is here that we are apt to find the most genuine expressions of love in all its forms.
Presenters will explore the love relationships present in these letters, examining exchanges between husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and confidants. Through their analysis, presenters will seek to uncover deep-rooted social standards that may have influenced these correspondents, unique backgrounds or situations that may have affected their exchanges, or even the simplest universal emotions that these critically acclaimed authors may have shared with only their closest confidants. Additionally, presenters might consider connections between the autobiographical letters and the fictional works produced by their authors to expose parallels, contrasts or inconsistencies.
Undergraduate students are particularly encouraged to submit proposals.
Proposals and questions should be directed to:
Peggy Schaller Elliott, Ph. D.
Associate Professor, Coordinator of French
Modern Languages and Cultures
Georgia College & State University
231 W. Hancock St., CBX 046
Milledgeville, GA 31061