From Social Performance to Expressing the ‘True Self’: The Change in the Communicational Assumptions in Polish Letter-Writing Manuals from the Eighteenth and the Early Nineteenth Centuries in the Context of the Emergence of Modern Sincerity in the West
While the traditional model of verbal expression was founded on the premise that individuals should skilfully use conventions in order to achieve their goals, the modern approach, based on sincerity, assumes that people should problematise the truth about their own selves, and their utterances should be interpreted in relation to that truth. The article traces the emergence of the new concept of communication by analysing Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions and Julie, or the New Heloise, and Polish letter-writing manuals from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, putting emphasis on the premises of the new attitude (emergence of modern subjectivity, interpreting communication in referential rather than performative terms) and the wider socio-cultural context (emancipation of middle classes, transition from orality to literacy).
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