F20 Black Atlantic: Resources, Pedagogy, and Scholarship on the 18th Century Black Atlantic

Possible Final Project on Epistolary Novels

*This is a weekly response in which I first formulated my ideas for the final project. For the actual proposal please click HERE.

Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, An African 
is the second out of three epistolary novels we are reading this semester. The first was Obi; or, the history of three-fingered Jack, In a series of letters from a resident in Jamaica to his friend in England. I believe the last will be The Woman of Colour A Tale. For the final it is possible that I will go the route of a syllabus focused solely on epistolary novels of the 18th century and onward. We live in a digital epistolary age. The technology has changed but the roots of letter writing is still the same. I want to explore British literature in relation to changes in technology and correspondence across the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries using epistolary fiction and non-fiction. I believe something lucrative can come out of examining epistolary works during the century of their increased popularity. The 18th century saw an expansion of the postal system that allowed people to send letters quickly and reliably. This, along with the release of writing manuals made letter writing a popular method of communication. I want to examine the jump from actual letters to epistolary fiction and dig into how the epistolary works of the 18th century influenced modern epistolary works. I would want to include texts such as Sancho's collection of letters but also Aphra Behn's Love Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister. 

A few things I need to do to move forward with this project:I also might have an idea for students to participate in active letter-writing. Something interactive that they can include in their final projects. Just like one would purchase a book for a course, a book of stamps might be required material. This seems like an idea that could play out well, but I would definitely need to think it through a bit more. 

One thing I would want to push in a class such as this is getting familiar with the historical context of each work. There could be a weekly response or each student takes a turn giving a presentation each class that gives us more of a view into the historical context of a epistolary work. For a final project I really want to utilize something like Scalar for students to craft their own site on a specific epistolarly work or a site that explores the genre in general. 

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