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Palgrave Macmillan

When Private Talk Goes Public

Gossip in American History

ISBN 9781137442291
Publication Date August 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Rumor, hearsay, tittle-tattle, scuttlebutt, scandal, dirt—whatever the term, gossip is one of the most common forms of communication in which we engage. And yet, even as it is often absorbing and socially significant, it is also widely denigrated. This engaging volume brings together a captivating array of case studies in the history of American gossip, from colonial witchcraft trials to the era of People magazine and flash-in-the-pan Internet celebrities. Here, contributors from diverse disciplines explore the role of gossip in American society, culture, and politics, tracing its transformations and continuities over time and making a convincing case that we should reassess this too-readily dismissed variety of social exchange.

Kathleen Feeley is Associate Professor of History at University of Redlands, USA. Her work has appeared in Reviews in American History, History Compass, and the Journal of American History. She is the author of Mary Pickford: Women, Film, and Selling Girlhood (2014).

Jennifer Frost is Associate Professor of History at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She is the author of Hedda Hopper's Hollywood: Celebrity Gossip and American Conservatism (2011) and 'An Interracial Movement of the Poor': Community Organizing and the New Left in the 1960s (2001).

Introduction; Kathleen Feeley and Jennifer Frost

1. "They make one very handsome Mirkin amongst them": Gossip and Church Politics in Seventeenth-Century Virginia; Christine Eisel

2. "The Time When There Was So Much Talk of the Witchcraft in this Country": Gossip and the Essex County Witchcraft Crisis of 1692; Mary Beth Norton

3. Governed Gossip: The Personal Letters and Public Purpose of Philip Ludwell in Early-Eighteenth-Century Virginia; Virginia Price

4. The Infamous Anne Royall: Jacksonian Gossip, Scribbler, and Scold; Nancy Isenberg

5. "Gadding," "Gainsaying," and Negotiating Gossip in the Antebellum Black Press; Erica L. Ball

6. Gossip Law: Popular Journalism and Transformations in Law and American Legal Culture; Samantha Barbas

7. Diplomacy and Gossip: Information-Gathering in the U.S. Foreign Service, 1900-1940; Molly M. Wood

8. "As Told By Helen Ferguson": Hollywood Publicity, Gender, and the Public Sphere; Mary Desjardins

9. Gossip in the Women's Pages: Legitimizing the Work of Women Journalists in the 1950s and 1960s; Kimberly Wilmot Voss

10. The Smearing of Joe McCarthy: The Lavender Scare, Gossip, and Cold War Politics; Andrea Friedman

11. Gossip Goes Mainstream: People Magazine, the National Enquirer, and the Rise of Personality Journalism; Anne Helen Petersen

12. Is Charles Trippy Famous?: Vlog Culture and Twenty-First-Century Celebrity Gossip on Internet Killed Television; Tim Seiber

Christine Eisel, Bowling Green State University, USA

Mary Beth Norton, Cornell University; USA

Virginia Price, Historic American Buildings Survey, National Park Service, USA

Nancy Isenberg, Louisiana State University, USA

Erica L. Ball, California State University, Fullerton, USA

Samantha Barbas, University of Buffalo, USA

Molly M. Wood, Wittenberg University, USA

Mary Desjardins, Dartmouth College, USA

Kimberly Wilmot Voss, University of Central Florida, USA

Andrea Friedman, Washington University, St. Louis, USA

Anne Helen Petersen, Whitman College, USA

Tim Seiber, University of Redlands, USA


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