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Emotional Upheavals in Writing Letters in the 21st Century

An online seminar hosted by The University of Western Australia. Part of the CHE Virtual Fellows Seminar Series


Image: Photo by Debby Hudson (2020). Unsplash

Date: Tuesday 18 October 
Time: 3:00pm AWST / 6:00pm AEDT
Venue: Online via Zoom. Please email emotions@uwa.edu.au for connection details. 
Enquiries: emotions@uwa.edu.au

Letters are social fields of emotion. They are usually generated by letter writers and the relevant addressees. Until recently, the practice of writing letters itself generated a plethora of emotions from thrilling excitement to glaring hesitation and trepidation punctuated by rhapsodies of whimsical musings. In the last few decades with polymedia devices occupying the prominent role in migrant households, the practice of letter writing, specifically by hand, has increasingly drifted to the margins in the day-to-day communication between migrants and their families across the globe. Yet, the practice is embedded in communities’ cultural memory to the point that its specificity remains resistant to its total demise. Drawing from literary theory and the history of emotions, this paper proposes to examine the emotional worlds that the practice of letter writing inhabits in the twenty-first century. Based on a series of workshops held with diasporic communities in Montreal in 2022, the study aims to reconsider the historical practice of letter writing among first- and second-generation migrant households in Canada.




Sonia Cancian (McGill University)