Seminar: Linda Winston, Letters: Exploring the Art and Practice of Corresponding
In 1971, Elizabeth Bishop led a seminar at Harvard on letters: “Just letters—as an art form or something. I’m hoping to select a nicely incongruous assortment of people—Mrs. Carlyle, Chekhov, my Aunt Grace, Keats, a letter found in the street, etc. etc.”
This seminar is inspired both by Bishop’s love of letters and by the surprising response—from people of different backgrounds, ages, and areas of the country—to Linda Winston’s Author’s Query in the New York Review of Books: “Seeking people who still write letters, thick and thoughtful, to friends, colleagues, old/new loves, distant kids and freshly appreciated parents.” At first, intending to engage in a kind of salvage anthropology (reviving a cultural practice at risk of becoming extinct), she did not fully grasp what she was reaching for. Over time, with the help of her letter writers, she began to understand that corresponding, at its best, means being seen, heard, and accepted for all that we are.
The seminar will focus mainly, though not exclusively, on selected letters from the correspondence of poets and writers who describe their lives, feelings, art, and ideas in letters that are vibrant, fervent, sometimes lyrical, often immediate and unfiltered, and always seeking to connect with the other.
Linda Winston, a cultural anthropologist, is the author of Keepsakes: Using Family Stories in Elementary Classrooms; Grandpartners: On Intergenerational Learning; and The Tree That Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination (co-edited with Mary Ann Hoberman).
This seminar takes place over four Wednesdays:
all at 5:00 PM in the Whitridge Room.