This article outlines the results of a three-month community letter-writing and letter-sharing project called Viral Epistolary, which we completed online in Italy during the first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns. We collected 340 digital letters from all over the country and connected thousands of people through epistolary exchanges. We used the genre of letters as a mediating, meaning-making, and (auto)biographical tool whereby people could share their experiences of domestic isolation and physical distancing, thus creating a community of support. Based on a well-documented understanding of meaning-making as a core human endeavor, especially in times of social disruption and personal crisis, this article frames sense-making as a transcendental and even spiritual process that yields broad principles for organizing life. Thus, the research adopts a psychosocial perspective on spirituality and applies thematic analysis to qualitatively analyze written narratives. The results reveal that many respondents underwent a three-part, not necessarily sequential process of collapsing, self-distancing, and transcending during the lockdowns that allowed them to rearrange themselves according to the new total social fact of the pandemic. Through this process, respondents negotiated the three themes of Semiotic Crisis, Striving for Meaning, and Beyond Meaning: The Essential. Finally, the article discusses the role of meaning as a transcendental component of psychosocial meaning-making coping processes and tries to highlight how shared writing experiences can stimulate personal and communal healing processes in the wake of social crises.

A “Viral Epistolary” and Psychosocial Spirituality: Restoring Transcendental Meaning During COVID-19 Through a Digital Community Letter-Writing Project

Ciro De Vincenzo;Adriano Zamperini
2022

Abstract

This article outlines the results of a three-month community letter-writing and letter-sharing project called Viral Epistolary, which we completed online in Italy during the first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns. We collected 340 digital letters from all over the country and connected thousands of people through epistolary exchanges. We used the genre of letters as a mediating, meaning-making, and (auto)biographical tool whereby people could share their experiences of domestic isolation and physical distancing, thus creating a community of support. Based on a well-documented understanding of meaning-making as a core human endeavor, especially in times of social disruption and personal crisis, this article frames sense-making as a transcendental and even spiritual process that yields broad principles for organizing life. Thus, the research adopts a psychosocial perspective on spirituality and applies thematic analysis to qualitatively analyze written narratives. The results reveal that many respondents underwent a three-part, not necessarily sequential process of collapsing, self-distancing, and transcending during the lockdowns that allowed them to rearrange themselves according to the new total social fact of the pandemic. Through this process, respondents negotiated the three themes of Semiotic Crisis, Striving for Meaning, and Beyond Meaning: The Essential. Finally, the article discusses the role of meaning as a transcendental component of psychosocial meaning-making coping processes and tries to highlight how shared writing experiences can stimulate personal and communal healing processes in the wake of social crises.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3409863
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