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Lamenting the Letter and the Truth About Email

By Margaretta Jolly


But don't you know that the art of letter writing is dying? It seems that any talk about letters these days provokes lament for the lost country of proper address in the age of electronic mail. Yet how far is this nostalgia based on an accurate perception of what either email or letter writing entails? An analysis of key features of each genre shows far more overlap than is commonly imagined. In this paper, I argue that email is a very different object to letter writing, yet not necessarily for the reasons that many believe. Email is not a degraded form of letter, but one element in a new digital economy of writing, an economy that has unsettled traditional grounds for identity and trust. In this light, I will address the question of textual truth, which so stimulates the study of life writings generally, in relation to what we might call e-epistolarity and e-hoaxes

Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1080/14484528.2011.554162
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