Burn as soon as read: Love and negotiation in the correspondence of Isabel Mantz and John Dice Johnson.
AuthorMahoney, Deirdre Marie
Committee ChairMiller, Thomas
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe love letters written by Isabel Mantz and her intended mate shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War help construct an emerging field of the local histories of "ordinary" women in rhetoric. Personal forms of discourse such as the letters written by Isabel Mantz represent alternative rhetorics, texts which privilege the personal, the private, the fragmented, and the autobiographical. Love letters, specifically, represent a rhetorical mode that has remained virtually ignored to date. The correspondence composed by Isabel Mantz allows today's audience entrance into a particular historical moment in which a young woman revealed her expectations and desires as she maneuvered within the institutions of mid-nineteenth-century courtship rituals, literacy practices, educational opportunities, and dominant female health-practice ideology. The ways in which Isabel Mantz used the love letter to negotiate a relationship in its infancy, to create a sustaining relationship in print, and ultimately, in the final stages of the courtship, to textualize her identity through her own writing process are examined in full detail. This study suggests that women have effectively used language as a heuristic for situating themselves in both the private and public spheres of the period as they have simultaneously used their written discourse as a heuristic for inventing and expressing themselves.