St. Thomas' Next 'Healthy Relationships' Lecture on Oct. 8 to Focus on Love Letters

Dr. Michelle Janning, a sociology professor at Whitman College in Washington, will discuss “Why Love Letters Matter, Even in the Digital Age,” in a lecture at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, in the Great Room (Room 100) of McNeely Hall on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.

The lecture is free and open to the public and snacks and beverages will be served.

Janning’s talk is the next in the Healthy Relationship Series sponsored by St. Thomas’ Family Studies Program. The program offers an interdisciplinary major and minor designed to educate students about families and the role of families in building healthy persons, relationships and communities.

Janning’s 2014 national study of more than 800 participants, ranging in age from 18 to 89, found that 76 percent of them save their old love letters. The study, “Love Letters Lost? Gender and the Preservation of Digital and Paper Communication From Romantic Relationships” is being published in a soon-to-be-released book, Family Communication in an Age of Digital and Social Media. The book is edited by Dr. Carol Bruess, director of St. Thomas’ Family Studies Program.

“Love letters matter – whether or not the writers become lifelong partners,” Janning said recently in a Chicago Tribune newspaper article. “They become our relationship counselors, reminding us of what to avoid in future relationships and what to rekindle.”

And whether love letters are stored in a box under your bed, or in a digital folder on your smartphone, “looking at love letters, and the various formats they take in the digital age, is an innovative way to understand the importance of our close relationships,” said St. Thomas’ Bruess.

Members of the St. Thomas Family Studies faculty will be available before and after the lecture to answer questions about the program.