Audric Wannaz

A corpus study on the content and structure of family private letters of the Greco-Roman period (working title).

First supervisor: Prof. Dr. Sabine R. Hübner, University of Basel; second supervisor: Prof. Dr. Paul Heilporn, Université de Strasbourg

The project aims to add both content and methodological value to the study of ancient social history through the corpus study of a particular type of letter.

To date, there is a lack of a quantitatively supported typology of the letter as a genre among the documentary sources of antiquity, although numerous qualitative studies have already been devoted to it. With my work, I would like to give a start to the emergence of such a typology by using the example of a particular type of letter. Some private letters are unique sources in that they bear witness, more than any other text type, to relationships between family members and friends that were irrelevant outside their microcosms. These personal, familial letters provide insight into arguably the most intimate sphere of ancient people's lives and therefore, in my opinion, deserve to be studied as a corpus.

On a methodological level, this work can be seen as an attempt to complement (without replacing!) the qualitative close reading of previous research on personal private letters with the distant reading made possible by the advent of digital humanities . In terms of the corpus study, this means that in a first part it will initially function corpus based, since the previous research questions will significantly shape the creation of the corpus. Conversely, the analysis of the corpus will lead to a corpus driven approach, as soon as new questions become apparent from the texts due to the new visualization methods.