The Edinburgh Companion to Nineteenth-Century American Letters and Letter-Writing
Edited by Celeste-Marie Bernier and Judie Newman
Edited by Matthew Pethers
This comprehensive study by leading scholars in an important new field – the history of letters and letter writing – is essential reading for anyone interested in nineteenth-century American politics, history or literature. Because of its mass literacy, population mobility, and extensive postal system, nineteenth-century America is a crucial site for the exploration of letters and their meanings, whether they be written by presidents and statesmen, scientists and philosophers, novelists and poets, feminists and reformers, immigrants, Native Americans, or African Americans. This book breaks new ground by mapping the voluminous correspondence of these figures and other important American writers and thinkers. Rather than treating the letter as a spontaneous private document, the contributors understand it as a self-conscious artefact, circulating between friends and strangers and across multiple genres in ways that both make and break social ties.