Research Stream


Francesco De Toni
The University of Western Australia

Constructing and expressing friendship in the correspondence of Rosendo Salvado and his epistolary networks: a corpus-based linguistic analysis

This project analyses how friendship was constructed and expressed in nineteenth-century epistolary language. The project focuses on the epistolary and friendship networks of Bishop Rosendo Salvado, the founder of the Benedictine community of New Norcia, in Western Australia.

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This project investigates the role of epistolarity in the construction and the expression of friendship among churchmen in the nineteenth century. It adopts a linguistic perspective, exploring how the correspondence between friends was characterised by certain standards in the usage of the linguistic resources of the letter.

The research is conducted through the analysis of a case study that is of particular relevance for the history of Western Australia. Indeed, the project studies the construction and the expression of friendship in the correspondence of the Spanish monk Rosendo Salvado (1814-1900) and of selected members of his epistolary networks. Salvado was the founder of the Benedictine Mission of New Norcia (1846), in Western Australia, and one of the earliest European settlers in this region. The correspondents selected from his epistolary networks were all European churchmen, who lived either in Western Australia or in Europe.

The project focuses on letters in Italian, Spanish and French, and conjoins research perspectives and objectives from both linguistics and the history of emotion. On the one hand, the project aims at developing a useful linguistic approach to the study of the expression of social bonds and emotions in epistolary communication. In this regard, the analysis especially focuses on how, within the constraints of the nineteenth-century epistolary form, the expression of emotions and intimacy interacted with inequalities in the hierarchical status of the correspondents. On the other hand, the project aims at contributing to the understanding of Christian friendship in the 19th century. More specifically, the project provides a unique insight into the human relationships that shaped Western Australia in the 19th century and into the emotional heritage that the first European settlers brought to this Australian region.

Image: Courtesy of the Archives of the Benedictine Community of New Norcia