Letters are fragile. They may be lost on the way or torn; they may arrive half-baked, in a loaf of bread, and late. Elements of the modern world, not least the efficiency of electronic mail, have thus rendered letters obsolete. Handwriting, in turn, has been substituted by keyboards and preset fonts; by computer screens and the cursory scroll. Our muscles have forgotten the tender ways paper may be held and turned or dwelt within.
In this seminar, we will foreground fragility, exploring lateness in poetic, philosophical, and political letters. On the way, we will take into account the ancient history of epistles in Egypt, Athens, and Rome. Texts may include Virginia Woolf’s love notes, Franz Kafka’s unsent confession, Martin Luther King's plea from Birmingham Jail, an exchange between Leo Tolstoy and Muhammad Abduh, and the correspondence of Gustave Flaubert.
Throughout the seminar, we will consider our own case. To whom do we yearn to write, and what content do we trust with the epistolary form? How do we send a letter when at stake in its reception is myriad types of recognition, or even survival? And can writing reflect on - or ever defend - its late arrival? Each member of the seminar will be offered the space and resources to compose a letter, however temporally conceived, and to let it be.
January 31st - March 19th
Saturdays or Mondays
6pm - 8pm
Late Letters will launch with Barid Tehran, the Institute’s postal service, and members will receive a key to a mailbox of their own.
Tuition: 260 JDs. Scholarships are available to those who cannot afford tuition, regardless of age, nationality, or employment status.