Towards Epistolary Dialogue

  • Sandy Pensoneau Conway Southern Illinois University
  • Molly Wiant Cummins St. Cloud State University
Keywords: Pedagogy, Epistolary Dialogue, Feminist Pedagogy, Critical Pedagogy


In this essay, we investigate the potential of letters as a communicative genre that embodies dialogue, and thus, disrupts power relations. To do so, we first outline a theoretical framework that draws upon feminist and critical communication pedagogies. We specifically focus on two scholars—Nel Noddings and Paulo Freire—for the ways they utilize dialogue in developing their pedagogical positions. We then explain our epistolary method of letter writing, which stood as the central component of a semester-long project between us as student and teacher.  We use excerpts from our letters to analyze the epistolary form as conducive to dialogic engagement—what we call epistolary dialogue.  We argue that epistolary dialogue is made possible due to letters being invitational, temporal, personal, and constructive.