This innovative collection of essays participates in the ongoing debate about the epistolary form, challenging readers to rethink the traditional association between the letter and the private sphere. It also pushes the boundaries of that debate by having the contributors respond to each other within the volume, thus creating a critical community between covers that replicates the dialogic nature of epistolarity itself, with all its dissonances and differences as well as its connections.

Focusing mainly on Anglo-American texts from the seventeenth century to the present day, these nine essays and their "postscripts" engage the relationship between epistolary texts and discourses of gender, class, politics, and commodification. Ranging from epistolary histories of Mary Queen of Scots to Turkish travelogues, from the making of the modern middle class and the correspondence of Melville and Hawthorne to new epistolary innovators such as Kathy Acker and Orlan, the contributions are divided into three parts: part 1 addresses the "feminocentric" focus of the letter; part 2, the boundaries between the fictional and the real; and part 3 the ways in which the epistolary genre may help us think more clearly about questions of critical address and discourse that have preoccupied theorists in recent years.

In sum, Epistolary Histories is a defining contribution to epistolary studies.

Contributors:

Nancy Armstrong, Brown University

Anne L. Bower, Ohio State University, Marion

Clare Brant, King's College, London

Amanda Gilroy, University of Groningen

Richard Hardack, Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges

Linda S. Kauffman, University of Maryland, College Park

Donna Landry, Wayne State University

Gerald MacLean, Wayne State University

Martha Nell Smith, University of Maryland, College Park

W. M. Verhoeven, University of Groningen

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