Call for submissions to edited collection: When Private Talk Goes Public: Gossip in United States History
Call for Papers
When Private Talk Goes Public: Gossip in United States History
Kathleen Feeley and Jennifer Frost
We are seeking contributions to a co-edited anthology addressing the functions and impact of gossip in a variety of settings and moments in United States history. We welcome submissions from a range of fields, including history, cultural studies, film and media studies, literary studies, and gender studies.
Gossip has a long history, but this anthology will focus on gossip’s role in family and community life, the media, and national culture and politics in the United States. By spanning American history and addressing the multiple functions of gossip in public, in private, and “in-between,” this book will make a unique contribution to the scholarly literature and have wide appeal, as demonstrated by the interest of publisher Palgrave MacMillan.
Although formerly overlooked or trivialized, gossip is increasing recognized as an important and influential means of communication. While scholars in fields such as anthropology, sociology, and literary studies variously define gossip as “trivial” or “idle” talk or any conversation about “social relationships,” we define gossip as “private talk”—true or false talk about private life—voiced, often illegitimately, in the public realm. Gossip is a powerful discourse precisely because it blurs the imaginary yet influential boundary between what is considered “public” and “private.” Gossip also is and historically has been seen as the private talk of women, and this gendering of gossip has contributed to negative evaluations of gossip as trivial, inaccurate, or damaging. Yet, historical studies and sociological surveys tell us both men and women participate, because gossip provides guilty private pleasures and fulfills important public functions. It results in shared information and knowledge, allows for discussion and exchange, and contributes to relationships and a sense of community among participants. Gossip can be wielded as “a weapon of the weak” to assail the powerful in society but also by social and political elites to expand or defend their power.
We call for potential contributors to submit a 500-word abstract to us by January 1, 2012 (see email addresses below). Please include a brief bio and a full c.v. We would expect full papers (9,000 words including references) by July 1 2012.
As co-editors, Kathleen Feeley and Jennifer Frost bring scholarly expertise gained from their work in the history of gossip and journalism, women’s history, film history, and the history of politics and social movements. Kathleen Feeley, University of Redlands, is the author of “Classical Hollywood as Public Sphere: The Case of Citizen Kane” in Imagination and the Public Sphere, ed. Susan Cumings (Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publications, 2012); “Gossip as News: On Modern U.S. Celebrity Culture and Journalism History,” History Compass (Blackwell Publishing, 2011); and is at work on the manuscript “The Mightiest Publicity Powers on Earth”: The Rise of the Hollywood Press Corps in Mid-Twentieth-Century America. Jennifer Frost, University of Auckland, New Zealand, has written two books: Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood: Celebrity Gossip and American Conservatism (NYU, 2011) and “An Interracial Movement of the Poor”: Community Organizing and the New Left in the 1960s (NYU, 2001). While our research and scholarship has focused on the twentieth century, we’ve read widely in order to situate our studies of gossip historically and have familiarized ourselves with much of the literature on gossip in earlier periods in United States history. Our aim with this anthology, then, is to offer a broad picture of gossip’s significance for Americans.
For more information and for submissions, please contact Kathleen Feeley (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jennifer Frost (email@example.com).
University of Redlands
University of Auckland
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