With kind regards: Convention, standards and breaking the rules in letter-writing
The series "With kind regards: Convention, standards and breaking the rules in letter-writing" offers various lectures on variation in language use and the use of conventions in letters from different regions and periods.
As part of the ERC-project ‘embedding conquests’, we are organizing the lecture series "With kind regards: convention, standards and breaking the rules in letter-writing".
Whenever one writes a letter, one engages with different kinds of conventions: social conventions dictating the interaction between sender and addressee, like forms of address, appropriate contents, and suitable levels of formality; but also, conventions related to the medium and genre of the text, such as lay-out and formulae that are specific to the letter-genre. In practice, however, we find a lot of variation in the language use, and use of conventions in letters. Such variation can have numerous causes. The author’s education can play a role, the formality of the letter, the relationship between the sender and the addressee and the sender’s communicative goals.
In this lecture series we want to focus on variation in language use, and the use of conventions in letters from different regions and periods. What are the conventions in a specific cultural and linguistic area ? Do the senders of letters abide by them, or do they break them, and for what purpose? In other words: how do authors use conventions in language use and materiality to convey their message?
To encourage comparative discussion, we would like to invite two speakers to each session, who will bring a different perspective to related material. Possible topics of comparison could be how people use conventions and appeal to social norms when asking for favors in letters or petitions; how factors such as gender or social status affect how people relate to each other in letters; or how conventions are applied to express (im)politeness. These are merely suggestions, however, and we also welcome other topics that fit within the general theme outlined above. We will ask each speaker to present a 20-30 mins paper, followed by a one-hour plenary discussion.
We hope to be able to organize these sessions in person at Leiden University, every first Tuesday of the month from 17.00 till 19.00, starting in March.