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Sociology: People


Sarah Poustie

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Sarah Poustie
Edinburgh UK
Research Interests
Epistolarity, Olive Schreiner's letters, Historical sociology, Social network analysis

Research Interests:

Relationships, Qualitative Analysis of Letters and Social Networks, Epistolary Theory and Concepts, Historical Sociology, Archival Theory and Research, British and South African Social History (circa 1880 to 1920).

PhD Thesis:

My thesis examines some of the extensive epistolary and social networks that Olive Schreiner was connected to. My research is linked (through an ESRC funded PhD Studentship: Reference RES-062-23-1286) to the Olive Schreiner Letters Project (see

The Introduction to my thesis provides some biographical information on Schreiner and the socio-political climate and friendship networks she was immersed in. Also included are a review of key relevant points from epistolary theory, social network theory, a reflexive account of my own epistemological positioning and a discussion of the inherent difficulties a researcher faces when working with archival material and particularly letters.

Based on primary source correspondence and other documentary archival material, I use (in Part One of my thesis) a number of small scale case studies of selected epistolary/social networks to tease out and develop some conceptual and theoretical ideas about letters and networks. These ideas will developed and used in the analysis of three much larger case studies in Part Two to examine their usefulness and applicability within given contexts.

This work in ongoing and is due for completion in September 2012.


Education and Awards:

Olive Schreiner Letters Project PhD Studentship: Economic and Social Research Council Reference RES-062-23-1286. (2008-2012 University of Edinburgh).

Masters Degree with Distinction in Social Research (Sociology) (2009 University of Edinburgh).

First Class Honours Degree in Social Sciences. (2008 University of the Highlands and Islands/Perth College).



Poustie, Sarah (2011) "Book Review: Jolly, Margaretta. (2008) In Love and Struggle: Letters in Contempoary Feminism", Life Writing, in press.

Poustie, Sarah (2011) “‘That is supposed to be my foot’: Letters, Bodies and Epistolary Co-Presence”  (paper in progress and initially given at the IABA Conference, Sussex, 2010).

Poustie, Sarah. (2010) ‘Re-Theorising Letters and ‘Letterness’’,OSLP Working Papers on Letters, Letterness & Epistolary Networks Number 3



Prof. Liz Stanley (

Dr. Jonathan Hearn (