This book explores the social significance of letter writing. Letter writing is one of the most pervasive literate activities in human societies, crossing formal and informal contexts. Letters are a common text type, appearing in a wide variety of forms in most domains of life. More broadly, the importance of letter writing can be seen in that the phenomenon has been widespread historically, being one of earliest forms of writing, and a wide range of contemporary genres have their roots in letters. The writing of a letter is embedded in a particular social situation, and like all other types of literacy objects and events, the activity gains its meaning and significance from being situated in cultural beliefs, values, and practices. This book brings together anthropologists, historians, educators and other social scientists, providing a range of case studies that explore aspects of the socially situated nature of letter writing.
1. 1. Introduction (by Barton, David); 2. 2. Letters and the Social Grounding of Differentiated Genres (by Bazerman, Charles); 3. 3. The Familiar Letter and Social Refinement in America, 1750-1800 (by Dierks, Konstantin); 4. 4. Letter Writing in a Cornish Community in the 1790s (by Austin, Frances O.); 5. 5. English Pauper Letters 1800-34, and the English Language (by Fairman, Tony); 6. 6. The Materiality of Letter Writing: A nineteenth century perspective (by Hall, Nigel); 7. 7. Letter-Writing Instruction in 19th Century Schools in the United States (by Schultz, Lucille M.); 8. 8. Young Children's Explorations of Letter Writing (by Hall, Nigel); 9. 9. Death Row Penfriends: Some Effects of Letter Writing on Identity and Relationships (by Maybin, Janet); 10. 10. 'Absolute Truly Brill to See From You': Visuality and Prisoners' Letters (by Wilson, Anita); 11. 11. True Traces: Love Letters and Social Transformation in Nepal (by Ahearn, Laura M.); 12. 12. Teaching Letters: The Recontextualisation of Letter-Writing Practices in Literacy Classes for Unschooled Adults in South Africa (by Kell, Catherine); 13. 13. Computer-Mediated Communication: The Future of the Letter? (by Yates, Simeon J.); 14. Author biographies; 15. Index of Names; 16. Index of Subjects