January 2021

Letter Writers and Epistolarity

Listed in: English, as ENGL-270

Moodle site: Course


Benigno R. Sanchez-Eppler (Section 01J)


The participants in this online course will read letters and write letters. This course became radically enhanced with the distancing imposed as COVID-19 exiled us from campus last spring.

The course depends both on experiences and experiments with the letter as a complex instrument of communication, as literary artefact, as carrier of affect, intention and ideas, and as a record of individual and communal growth. Letter writing will be practiced as a performance that deploys persona, tone, voice, purpose, persuasion, transparency, and decorum. Your discoveries and the development of your thoughts will be circulated as letters written among a small circle of correspondence.

Readings will include letters written by Paul, Seneca, Martin Luther King, Biddy Martin, Dorothy Osborne, John Keats, Rainer Maria Rilke, Lou Andreas-Salomé, Sigmund Freud, Boris Pasternak, Marina Tsvetayeva, Robert Oppenheimer. The reading of epistolary novels will focus our attention on fictional uses of the form (Daddy Longlegs, Dangerous Liaisons, Screwtape Letters). We will also pay attention to the current evolution of letter writing in the time of e-mail and social media, and social isolation.

Capstone projects will be organized as researched and curated presentations of selected online manuscript letters, or as a compiled and analyzed collection of personal or family letters, or as epistolary fiction.

In addition to the expected use of Zoom and emergency uses of Skype, students are expected to become familiar with: Google Drive, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides; Dropbox; Microsoft Word, Power Point, and Excel; Audible and Kindle; parabol.co; and ProQuest Ebook Central.

January. Lecturer B. Sánchez-Eppler.


Artistic Practice, Attention to Research, Attention to Writing, Online Only, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2020, January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2022