Whitman Sociology Professor Wrote the Book on Love Letters
Through stories and survey results, her research uncovers how and why people retain correspondence from past romances and what cultural values these curatorial habits express. What role do age and gender play? How much does digital versus paper matter, and how does the format in which we store love letters make us feel? Who is more likely to screenshot a text rather than tuck a handwritten note away for safekeeping, and what is the significance of these choices over time?
"I was inspired to do this research after I stumbled upon a box of old paper letters in my basement," Janning said. "I wondered if I would have had a different kind of experience rifling through them if they were digital messages saved on my smartphone."
An expert on family, childhood, gender and education, Janning joined the Whitman College faculty in 2000. She researches, speaks and writes about relationships, parenthood, pop culture, interior design, inequalities and Scandinavian life, among other buzz-worthy topics. Janning earned her bachelor's degree from St. Olaf College and her master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Notre Dame. She served as a visiting researcher at the University of York's Centre for Women's Studies, as a visiting professor and consultant in the Sociology and Child Development and Diversity Programs at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad, as a Fulbright Specialist Scholar and as co-chair of the Board of Directors for the Council on Contemporary Families.
Her last book was The Stuff of Family Life: How Our Homes Reflect Our Lives (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).