100 years of love letters analysed in major new study



2016-01-29 15:59:17

Academics in Vienna have analysed 100 years of love letters to build up a picture of changing attitudes towards gender and sexuality.

The researchers analysed letters dating to the 19th century up until the 1970s.  

Most of the letters come from an archive of documents from the estates of women from across the decades housed at the University of Salzburg.

Ingrid Bauer of the University of Salzburg comments: "Bridal correspondence by a couple engaged to be married was very common until the 1960s.

“The bridal letter is deemed to be the archetypical love letter, a genre usually given quite a narrow definition.

“In that sense, communicating by letter was highly important for negotiating the future of a relationship…

"While the writers generally seemed to know what a love letter is supposed to be, they also transgressed norms and cultural codes.”

The study showed that although there have been major changes in society, the contents of the letters have changed less than you would think.

Bauer notes: "Contrary to current belief, sexuality was an issue in letters long before the 'sexual revolution’.

"Sexual elements were present, albeit concealed by metaphors and a plethora of linguistic forms of expression."

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