Penn State

Laura E. Rotunno - associate professor of English, Penn State Altoona

Book Title: Epistolarity: Approaches to a Form

Author: Janet Gurkin Altman

Book Description:

I've always been overly interested in other people's mail. Epistolary literature provided a safe outlet for my interest, and it spurred my dissertation, multiple articles and conference papers, my first book project, and a wealth of my pedagogical work. It also led me to Janet Gurkin Altman's Epistolarity: Approaches to a Form.

Altman refined my approach to fictional correspondence and taught me how to teach students not just to read fictional letters critically but also to extend more probing evaluation to their own and others' ways of addressing audiences. Altman also continues to remind me of the power of writing, when she asserts that "To write a letter is to map one's coordinates—temporal, spatial, emotional, intellectual—in order to tell someone else where one is located at a particular time and how far one has traveled since the last writing" (119). Attempting to make all my writing (and my students' writing) convey such a message is one of my central goals.


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