Letter-Writing Manuals and Instruction from Antiquity to the Present: Historical and Bibliographic Studiesby Carol Poster
Once nearly as ubiquitous as dictionaries are today, letter-writing manuals served to instruct individuals not only in letter composition but also, in effect, on personal conduct. The study of letter-writing theory, which bridges rhetorical theory and grammatical studies, represents an emerging discipline in need of definition. In this volume eleven experts sketch the contours of epistolary theory and collect the historic and bibliographic materials that form the basis for its study.
Robert G. Sullivan pushes back the origin of the genre to Isocrates' classical epistolary theory and letters, and Carol Poster summarizes Greek and Latin works to discover the epistolary theory that permeated ancient schooling. Malcolm Richardson surveys medieval dictamen, and Martin Carmago places letter-writing manuals in their educational context of fifteenth-century Oxford.
Moving into the largely uncharted territory of Renaissance epistolary theory, Gideon Burton examines philology and letter-writing theory in relation to medieval precursors. Lawrence D. Green discusses editions of letter-writing treatises in England; W. Webster Newbold explores the relationship between epistolarity and rise of vernacular English literacy; and Judith Rice Henderson investigates the uses of Erasmus' Opus de conscribendi epistolis in sixteenth-century schools.
Drawing attention to the broadening of the Renaissance model, Mitchell traces modern letter-writing instruction through eloquence handbooks and grammar books. John T. Gage surveys the patterns of inclusion and exclusion from late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century composition textbooks, and Joyce R. Walker considers how the electronic medium isreviving a long-neglected form of the epistolary tradition. A substantial collection of bibliographies close the volume, offering a compendium of sources for this burgeoning field.
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Meet the Author
Carol Poster is an associate professor of English at York University in Toronto and winner of the 2003 Kneupper Award for best article in Rhetoric Society Quarterly and the 1997 Gildersleeve Prize for best article in American Journal of Philology.
Linda C. Mitchell, a professor of English at San José State University, is the author of Grammar Wars: Language as Cultural Battleground in Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century England and coeditor of The Cultural History of Letter Writing.
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