The common writer in modern history

Edited by Martyn Lyons

The common writer in modern history
Hardcover +
  • Price: £90.00
  • ISBN: 9781526170750
  • Publish Date: Dec 2023
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    eBook -
  • Price: £90.00
  • ISBN: 9781526170743
  • Publish Date: Dec 2023
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information

    • Format: eBook
    • ISBN: 978-1-5261-7074-3
    • Published Date: December 2023


    This book underlines the importance of writing for the subordinate classes, and the variety of uses to which it was put. In eleven new studies by thirteen leading historians of scribal culture, it foregrounds the 'common writer' and contributes to a 'New History from Below'. The book presents pauper letters, ego-documents, life-writing of various kinds, soldiers' and emigrants' correspondence, handwritten newspapers and graffiti in streets and prisons, analysing the major genres of 'ordinary writings'. The studies draw on different disciplines, including cultural history, sociology and ethnography, folklore studies, palaeography and socio-historical linguistics. They range from the early modern Hispanic Empire to twentieth-century Australia, including studies of modern Britain, Iceland, Finland, Italy, Germany, South Africa and the USA. The book demonstrates the importance of studying manuscript culture to give a voice, a presence and dignity to the ordinary protagonists of history.


    Notes on contributors
    1 The common writer in history - Martyn Lyons
    2 Writings on the walls: approaches to graffiti in the early modern Hispanic world - Antonio Castillo Gómez
    3 'No more for Now or Praps Never': the meaning and function of pauper writing in Britain, 1750s to early 1900s - Steven King
    4 Common writers in German-speaking countries from the eighteenth to the twentieth century as agents of a language history from below - Stephan Elspaß
    5 Narrating injuries and injustices: life stories in the struggle for working-class rights in Britain, 1820-1945 - T. G. Ashplant
    6 Music and affective signalling in an immigrant letter from 1844 - David A. Gerber
    7 Pen, paper and peasants: the rise of vernacular literacy practices in nineteenth-century Iceland - Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon and Davíð Ólafsson
    8 Questioning 'the common writer': ordinary writings from the Emagusheni trading station, Pondoland, 1880-84 - Liz Stanley
    9 Madlands: Vincenzo Rabito as a writer - David Moss
    10 Copying, citing and creative rewriting: the transmission of texts and ideas in Finnish handwritten newspapers - Kirsti Salmi-Niklander and Risto Turunen
    11 Choreographing correspondences: how the state shaped soldiers' mail in the US and Red Armies during the Second World War - Brandon Schechter
    12 'Dear Prime Minister': the rhetoric of apology and affiliation in letters to Robert Menzies, Australian Prime Minister, 1949-66 - Martyn Lyons
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    Martyn Lyons is Emeritus Professor in History at the University of New South Wales

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