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Lynne Magnusson,”Culture of Early Modern Correspondence: John Donne Letters, “

May 5, 2011 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm

The Tenth Frederic Alden Warren Lecture
The John W. Graham Library, Trinity College
Thursday 5 May 2011 · 8 p.m.
George Ignatieff Theatre
Reception following in the Buttery 

Culture of Early Modern Correspondence:
John Donne on Letters
Lynne Magnusson
Director, Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies,
Victoria University in the University of Toronto

“Words sealed up in letters,” John Donne wrote to a friend, “be like words spoken in those frosty places where they are not heard till the next thaw.” Imagining the letter as a deep-freezer for words, Donne reflected on the strange difference between a letter and a face-to-face conversation. Here he emphasizes the physical object of the folded-and-sealed letter and suggests how elapsed time between the so-called “speaking” and “hearing” of epistolary words alters their conditions and their meanings. This lecture considers both Donne’s performances in letter-writing and the theory embedded in his self-conscious references to the materiality of letters. I focus on three key themes: the “body” of the letter, with special attention to the messenger as well as the physical object that is transmitted; the dangers of correspondence; how the medium changes meanings.


May 5, 2011
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Event Category:


George Ignatieff Theatre (Trinity College)
Trinity College, 6 Hoskin Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1H8 Canada
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