Anxious expressions: remote relationships in the Canning correspondence network 1760-1830

Bynoth, R ORCID: 0000-0002-3349-7709 (2024) Anxious expressions: remote relationships in the Canning correspondence network 1760-1830. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

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This is the first in-depth study of familial anxiety in the long eighteenth century. Focusing on the letters of one family, the Cannings, this thesis explores the emotional expressions of anxiety across the lifecycle, from 1760 to 1830. Though the Cannings are not representative of all families, the extensive archives of around 1500 letters, from fourteen members of the family, mean that various perspectives and relationships are presented . The Cannings also had many reasons to be anxious: death, hardship, reputational concerns, war, and familial rifts were some of the challenges they faced across this seventy-year period, as well as more everyday anxieties. The thesis uses Hitty and Mary Anne Canning's lives as the backbone to explore courtship and early marriage, pregnancy, parenthood, growing up, later life and death and grief. It aims to consider how anxiety operated within remote relationships during this period, particularly adopting history of emotions methods to uncover the nuances within remote familial relationships. This study demonstrates how anxious language and tone was an important linguistic tool in correspondences and was used to renegotiate familial relationships in a variety of situations. It affirms that anxiety existed across the lifecycle and across all relationships in different strengths, and that social and familial relationships were crucial in the expressions of various anxieties. These anxieties largely remained constant across the time period covered but were expressed in idiosyncratic ways, dependent on familial relationship, age and social and individual contexts. Thus, context is inherently important for understanding the nuances of emotional expressions in letters. Most importantly, this thesis shows how anxiety was used to express other emotions, most notably grief and love. Overall, it argues that more attention should be paid to the everyday expressions of anxiety, not just considering anxiety in relation to mental health.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)

This research was funded by the South, West & Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (AHRC).

Keywords: familial relationships, remote relationships, long 18th century, anxiety, grief, love, emotional expression, personal correspondence, primary sources, letter writing
Divisions: Bath School of Design
School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
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Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2024 15:45
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2024 10:56
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