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Ceccarelli, P; Doering, L; Fögen, T; Gildenhard, I; (2018) Introduction. In: Ceccarelli, P and Doering, L and Fögen, T and Gildenhard, I, (eds.) Letters and Communities: Studies in the Socio-Political Dimensions of Ancient Epistolography. (pp. 1-39). Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK.

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The Introduction surveys scholarly work on letter-writing in the ancient world. While generally of a high standard and often interdisciplinary in nature, bridging such fields as Near Eastern and Jewish Studies, Biblical Studies, Patristics, and Classics, research on ancient epistolography often marginalizes the role of letters in constituting and sustaining communities of various stripes (political, social, ethnic, religious, philosophical). The introduction explores various reasons for this oversight (the overriding importance given to face-to-face communication in public settings, the apparently ‘private’ nature of corresponding via letters, its low rank in the hierarchy of genres, and the marginal status this aspect of letter-writing has in ancient epistolary theory) before outlining why letters played such a vital role in ancient community-building, with an emphasis on long-distance communication, permanence, and the genre’s ideological flexibility and strong pro-social outlook. The second half offers a narrative of the volume, with summaries of its thirteen case studies.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Introduction
ISBN-13: 9780198804208
DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198804208.001.0001
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780198804208.001.0001
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: ancient letters, epistolography, communal aspects, communities, history of research
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10054565
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