Accepted Paper:

Scholarly correspondence: on those things we rarely write about in letters  


Dani Schrire (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Paper short abstract:

My paper engages “the politics of communicability” (Briggs 2012) in the study of scholarly correspondence, relating to knowledge that scholars tend to leave for oral forms of communication, rather than their letters.

Paper long abstract:

My paper engages scholarly correspondence, discussing the types of knowledge that scholars tend to leave for oral forms of communication and not for written forms of communication (in traditional mail or in emails). It is based on my own ethnographic-history of the development of Jewish folkloristics, relating to various omissions found in written letters that leave few traces that hint to "secrets", names and personal data - all concealed or implicitly referred to in correspondences. What scholars write about in letters and what they choose not to write about is challenging for any historical research - as imagination takes the place of what cannot be found in the letters at hand. A discussion of what we rarely write about in our correspondences (but indeed still communicate about!) opens plenty of opportunities for reflection on the channels chosen for the circulation of different types of scholarly knowledge, addressing questions concerning "the politics of communicability" (Briggs 2012).

Panel P06
Sincerely yours: ethnography of letters and correspondence