To the Letter: Contemporary Perspectives on Epistolarity.

A two-day symposium: 23 and 24 April 2008.

Keynote speakers: Professor Liz Stanley (Edinburgh) and Professor Gillian Whitlock (Queensland).

Letters are often seen in the humanities as giving insight into the more 'personal' aspects of creativity or political life (for instance, the letters of Rupert Brooke, Lytton Strachey; the letters of Thomas Jefferson, Harold Macmillan). An interest in epistolarity more generally originated in the social sciences in the 20th century, focused on their social dimensions, as a series of reciprocal exchanges in time, and as a window on the processes of 'becoming' over such temporal exchanges. More recent theorisations of epistolarity have spanned the humanities and social sciences and picked up on the porous quality of epistolarity as a genre, recognising that it gave rise to many other genres, is extremely responsive to social milieu.

This two-day symposium provides an interdisciplinary space to explore these and other features of epistolarity, in theoretical, methodological and substantive contributions. As well as the interest in 'traditional' (which are in fact historically specific) kinds of letters, the symposium provides a locus for exploring contemporary changes in social forms and interpersonal 'becomings' concerning epistolary forms of expression, including in video letters, txt and email.


Wednesday, 23 April:

9.30 Welcome - Robert Phiddian, Director, Flinders Humanities Research Centre.
9.45 – 11.00 Keynote: Gillian Whitlock (University of Queensland), “Letters from Nauru”, and discussion.
11.00 – 11.30 Morning Tea.
11.30 – 12:15 Presentation 1: Effie Karageorgos (Flinders University), “Soldiers’ Letters: the evolution in form and content of correspondence between the second South African and Vietnam wars”.
12.15 - 1.00 Presentation 2: Margaret Allen (University of Adelaide), “Dear Sir, Honourable Sir and the Karnana letter”.
1.00 – 2.00 Lunch.
2.00 – 2.45 Presentation 3: Rosslyn Prosser (University of Adelaide), “The Postcard: The Fragment”.
2.45 – 3.30 Presentation 4: Tully Barnett, Katie Cavanagh, and Kate Douglas (Flinders University), “The Australian Memory Project: Postcards from the Edge of South Australia”.
3.30 – 4.00 Afternoon Tea.
4.00 – 4.45 Presentation 5: Jane Haggis and Mary Holmes (Flinders University), “Epistles to Emails: Letters, self-construction and the virtual age”.
4.45 Drinks and nibbles.


Thursday, 24 April:

9.30 – 10.15 Presentation 6: Sue Sheridan (Flinders University), “Judith Wright and Barbara Blackman - correspondence 1950-1970”.
10.15 – 11.30 Keynote: Liz Stanley (University of Edinburgh), “The epistolary economy: exchange and anti/reciprocity in letters, correspondences & postcards”, and discussion.
11.30 – 12.30 Morning tea, general discussion and reflections.

For more information about the symposium, please contact Dr Kate Douglas or Associate Professor Jane Haggis.