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Collection by Cassandra Verhaegen (11 items)

A few stories of the mail and letters.

Includes the following tags:

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The Postal Age
by David M. Henkin
University of Chicago Press, 2006

Americans commonly recognize television, e-mail, and instant messaging as agents of pervasive cultural change. But many of us may not realize that what we now call snail mail was once just as revolutionary. As David M. Henkin argues in The Postal Age, a burgeoning postal network initiated major cultural shifts during the nineteenth century, laying the foundation for the interconnectedness that now defines our ever-evolving world of telecommunications. 

This fascinating history traces these shifts from their beginnings in the mid-1800s, when cheaper postage, mass literacy, and migration combined to make the long-established postal service a more integral and viable part of everyday life. With such dramatic events as the Civil War and the gold rush underscoring the importance and necessity of the post, a surprisingly broad range of Americans—male and female, black and white, native-born and immigrant—joined this postal network, regularly interacting with distant locales before the existence of telephones or even the widespread use of telegraphy. Drawing on original letters and diaries from the period, as well as public discussions of the expanding postal system, Henkin tells the story of how these Americans adjusted to a new world of long-distance correspondence, crowded post offices, junk mail, valentines, and dead letters.

The Postal Age paints a vibrant picture of a society where possibilities proliferated for the kinds of personal and impersonal communications that we often associate with more recent historical periods. In doing so, it significantly increases our understanding of both antebellum America and our own chapter in the history of communications.

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1
Lacan To The Letter
by Bruce Fink
University of Minnesota Press, 2004
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2
The Familiar Letter as a Literary Genre in the Age of Pushkin
by William Mills III Todd
Northwestern University Press, 1999
In the field of Russian literary studies, there is surprisingly little discussion of independent genres and their effect on the creativity of an era. This important text on the quasi-public "friendly letter" of nineteenth-century Russia addresses this deficiency, examining the tradition of familiar letter writing that developed in the early 1800s among literary circles that included such luminaries as Pushkin, Karamzin, and Turgenev, and arguing that these letters constitute a distinct literary genre.
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3
Draft of a Letter
by James Longenbach
University of Chicago Press, 2007

From Second Draft:

What other people learn

From birth,

Betrayal,

I learned late.

My soul perched

On an olive branch

Combing itself,

Waving its plumes.  I said

Being mortal,

I aspire to

Mortal things.

I need you,

Said my soul,

If you’re telling the truth.

Draft of a Letter is a book about belief—not belief in the unknowable but belief in what seems bewilderingly plain. Pondering the bodies we inhabit, the words we speak, these poems discover infinitude in the most familiar places. The revelation is disorienting and, as a result, these poems talk to themselves, revise themselves, fashioning a dialogue between self and soul that opens outward to include other voices, lovers, children, angels, and ghosts. For James Longenbach, great distance makes the messages we send sweeter. To be divided from ourselves is never to be alone. “If the kingdom is in the sky,” says the body to the soul, “Birds will get there before you.” “In time,” says the awakening soul, “I liked my second / Body better / Than the first.” To live, these poems insist, is to arise every day to the strange magnificence of the people and places we thought we knew best. Draft of a Letter is an unsettled and radiant paradiso, imagined in the death-shadowed, birth-haunted middle of a long life.

Praise for Fleet River

“A sensibility this cogent, this subtle and austere is rare; even rarer is its proof that poetry still flows through all things and transforms all things in the process.”—Carol Muske-Dukes, Los Angeles Times Book Review

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4
Confessions of the Letter Closet
by Patrick Paul Garlinger
University of Minnesota Press, 2005
By the beginning of the twentieth century, epistolary novels in Spain increasingly grappled with homoerotic and homosexual desire, treating it as a secret communicated through private letters from one reader to another. Patrick Paul Garlinger reveals how this confidential model persists in these fictions of letter writing from the early twentieth century to the present, framing expressions of queer desire in confessional terms: secrecy, guilt, morality, and shame.Confessions of the Letter Closet draws on queer theory and psychoanalysis, archival research on letter writing as a social practice and on the advent of the postal system in Spain, and historical insights into the impact of Spanish laws regarding the inviolability of correspondence on epistolary fiction. Garlinger examines how the epistolary novel represents - and is implicated in - the homophobia and psychic ambivalence around sexuality and identity with which Spanish gays and lesbians struggle, despite significant legal advances and increased social tolerance.Addressing both male and female desire and drawing links to epistolary traditions outside of Spain, Confessions of the Letter Closet goes beyond the specifics of Spanish literature to contribute more broadly to queer theory, the study of epistolary fiction, and an understanding of autobiography and confessional discourse.
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5
Relays
by Bernhard Siegert
translated by Kevin Repp
Stanford University Press, 1999
This book examines how one aspect of the social and technological situation of literature—namely, the postal system—determined how literature was produced and what was produced within literature. Language itself has the structure of a relay, where what is transmitted depends on a prior withholding. The social arrangements and technologies for achieving this transmission thus have had a particularly powerful impact on the imagination of literature as a medium.

The book has three parts. The first part reconstructs the postal conditions of classic and Romantic literature: the invention of postage in the seventeenth century, which transformed the postal system into a service meant to be used by the population (instead of by the prince alone); the sexualization of letter writing, which was introduced in the middle of the eighteenth century and changed the reading of a letter into an interpretation of intimate confessions of the soul; and Goethe’s turning of this new ontology of the letter into a logistics of literature whereby literary authorship was constructed by means of postal logistics, with the precision of engineering.

The second part analyzes nineteenth-century postal innovations that facilitated communication through letters and examines how literary works were able to live off such communication. These innovations included the reform of the post office; the invention of the postage stamp; the Universal Postal Union, which subjected letter writing to an economy of materials and uniform standards; and the telegraph and the telephone, which surpassed literature in terms of speed, economy, and analog-signal processing.

In the third part, on the basis of a close reading of Franz Kafka’s letters to his typist-fiancée, the author demonstrates how postal logistics of love and authorship have worked in the era of modern postal systems and technical media. Kafka’s correspondence is deciphered as a “war of nerves” waged by means of all available techniques and conditions of transmission.

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6
Survival Guide for Scientists
by Ad Lagendijk
Amsterdam University Press, 2008
During the course of Dutch physicist and Spinoza Prize–winner Ad Lagendijk’s long and influential career, he has published more than 300 articles, supervised over thirty doctoral dissertations, and given countless presentations and conference addresses. Over the years, his incisive consultations, tips, and rules for scientific study have proven themselves so beneficial to the emerging young scientists under his watch that he has been inundated with requests for a written version. Aimed primarily at undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students in the natural sciences, Survival Guide for Scientists presents Lagendijk’s practical how-to advice on essential topics such as the foundations for writing scientific texts, presenting data and research information, and writing and reading collegial e-mails. Each section is organized by a collection of short rules, outlined and numbered in a logical order as self-explanatory pieces of information—allowing the reader the freedom to study any number of them in any desired order. These concrete guidelines are all supplemented by an extensive index that forms a reference text of its own, with easy navigation—securing a place for the Survival Guide for Scientists on the shelves of scientific scholars and students alike.
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7
Other People's Mail
edited by Gail Pool
introduction by Gail Pool
University of Missouri Press, 2000

While the art and craft of letter writing have declined in this century, letter stories have thrived. Cast as love letters and Dear John letters, as thank-you notes and suicide notes, as memos, letters to the editor, and exchanges with the United States Post Office, examples of epistolary fiction have been published by the hundreds, among them the work of many of our most notable authors. Why has this form of fiction writing remained so popular? As Gail Pool answers, "Who, after all, is immune to the seduction of reading other people's mail?"

Although epistolary fiction enjoyed its greatest popularity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a time when letters were central to daily life, this style of writing has a decidedly postmodern air. Letter stories are about communication, and they are effective in framing our modern concerns: the struggle to find meaningful stories, relationships, and lives amid the social and moral disarray of the era and the blurred boundaries between fact and fiction, artist and audience, private and public domains. These are the themes of our time, and the themes of the stories in Other People's Mail.

Offering seventeen stories written by a culturally diverse group of authors, Other People's Mail represents what letter tales, at their best, can do. They may be written from the Canadian wilderness, a private school in Geneva, a concentration camp, or beyond the grave. They may be comic or satirical, poignant or tragic, but all are united in their distinctive format.

The first collection of its kind, Other People's Mail is a unique and important anthology. Pool's highly informative introduction explores the nature of letter fiction, and her individual preface to each story provides background information on both the author and the tale. A select listing additional letter stories rounds out the anthology. Literature and writing instructors in search of a fresh approach to stories and readers looking for an anthology with a lively theme will enjoy this collection.

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8
On Time Delivery
by William S. Schneider
University of Alaska Press, 2012
From the turn of the twentieth century in interior Alaska, dog team mail carriers were charged with maintaining the trail systems and carrying the mail until they were replaced in the late 1930s and ’40s by airplane mail service. With the advent and widespread adoption of aviation, many of the trails were abandoned, and a generation of rural Alaskans has now grown up with few ties to the overland trail system that supported their grandparents and inspired modern traditions such as the world-famous Iditarod Race.
In addition to chronicling the history of this unique postal service, On Time Delivery pays tribute to the men who carried the mail and the families who supported them, and considers the changing nature of how people experience the country where they live—and how this is affected by the systems of communication and transportation upon which they depend. 
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9
Mail and Female
by Sara H. Lindheim
University of Wisconsin Press, 2003
    In the Heroides, the Roman poet Ovid wittily plucks fifteen abandoned heroines from ancient myth and literature and creates the fiction that each woman writes a letter to the hero who left her behind. But in giving voice to these heroines, is Ovid writing like a woman, or writing "Woman" like a man?
    Using feminist and psychoanalytic approaches to examine the "female voice" in the Heroides, Sara H. Lindheim closely reads these fictive letters in which the women seemingly tell their own stories. She points out that in Ovid’s verse epistles all the women represent themselves in a strikingly similar and disjointed fashion. Lindheim turns to Lacanian theory of desire to explain these curious and hauntingly repetitive representations of the heroines in the "female voice." Lindheim’s approach illuminates what these poems reveal about both masculine and feminine constructions of the feminine
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10
The American Mail
by Wayne E. Fuller
University of Chicago Press, 1972
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