Kathleen A. Feeley and Jennifer Frost, eds.
When Private Talk Goes Public
Gossip in American History
Palgrave McMillan 2014
Across a series of twelve essays, When Private Talk Goes Public: Gossip in American History (Palgrave McMillan, 2014)examines the important and understudied role gossip has played in American history.Whether fashioned as “rumor, hearsay, tittle-tattle, scuttlebutt, scandal, [or] dirt,” gossip in its many forms is a central, if often discounted feature of American life. Kathleen A. Feeley and Jennifer A. Frost‘s compilation spans five centuries, exploring gossip from the early colonial period through its modern reinvention via new media.Within, contributors explore gossip as a mode of social and moral control, as a way for woman to wield political power outside of the formal channels closed to them, in espionage, in the making (and breaking) of celebrities through the rise of the gossip press, and in cyberspace.
More importantly, the collection serves as a valuable aggregation of scholars and approaches for an important developing field. Historians, legal scholars, scholars of gender, journalism, film, and new media all contribute, giving the volume analytical depth to match its varied and fascinating subjects. Taken together, these case studies demonstrate the richness of this pervasive and powerful social practice, and offer new interpretations of its significance.