Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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(4,659 words)

1. Genre history

1.1. Genre and medium

The letter is an individually addressed, written communication that is usually sent sealed. As an elementary form of interaction-free communication, it is characterized by the separation of the communication from the concrete situational context and the alternating absence of the reader during writing and the writer during reading. “Letter” is attested in English since the 13th century, derived from the Latin littera (“written document,” “epistle”) vi…

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Vellusig, Robert and Beyrer, Klaus, “Letter”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 01 April 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_017777>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20190801

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