The Letter as Genre

ENGL 4100H Genres / Gen Hon 3210H Honors Humanities Colloquia

TR 12:30-1:45 116 Strickland


This discussion-based writing-intensive course is intended for honors students from any discipline who are seeking a humanities credit and who want to help shape their own curriculum while seeking answers to the questions above and more. We’ll look at letters by famous literary figures, politicians, historians, civil war soldiers from Boone County, civil rights activists from the 1960’s, musicians, and artists. We’ll do a bit of archival work and archive our own work on a wiki. We’ll read salacious love letters that weren’t intended to see the light of day.

Students will select the authors and subject areas they wish to focus on for short, informal papers and one formal research paper, as well as propose alternative assignments within the spirit of the material we discover—and there’s plenty out there to find! Some students may wish to interview family members for an ethnographic study on letter writing in their families. Local disciplinary experts will meet with us to explore the famous letter writers in their fields, and we’ll examine the materials that early day letter writers needed to even send their missives: ink, quills, handmade paper. There are no quizzes or traditional exams. One student will be selected to present his or her work at a major national conference with the instructor and graduate TA.

Contact Prof. Marty Townsend, Department of English, for more information: [log in to unmask]


Jackie Thomas

Campus Writing Program

University of Missouri

602 Sanford Street, Conley House

Columbia, MO 65211


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