chapter  1
Gender Politics: Breathing New Life into Old Letters
ByMáire Cross, Caroline Bland
Pages 12

From the Bible to the Internet, from the pens of the mighty and the lowly, letters have always been an essential channel of communication between human beings for good and for evil. Letters provide an access to the currency of the past. They are a record of ideology and intrigue, and illustrate struggles and alliances of power. They provide a wonderful insight into the essence of many different types of relationships. Their styles vary but letters are a very specific genre, the study of which is just as multifaceted as the topic. Yet only some letters are preserved for posterity. Their survival can be somewhat haphazard, depending on the political circumstances of their inception or the cultural and historical value attached to them. In recent decades there has been recognition of the significance of the genre as a valuable tool for political studies and in textual analysis for gender studies.