"Literature, Gossip, & Scandal" - Freshman Seminar
- Maha Zehra Jafri
- Annenberg Hall G31 - MoWeFr 12:00PM - 12:50PM
Overview of classWhat is the relationship between literature and gossip? What can literature teach us about gossip, and what can gossip teach us about literature? Ranging from the trivial to the serious, from the everyday to the scandalous, gossip occupies a central role in novels of the 19th and early-20th centuries. Attending to the motivations and consequences of talking about friends and enemies, neighbors and strangers, we will examine how and why novels depend on gossip and scandal in representations of social life. What do characters gossip about and why? How does gossip both forge and fracture social relationships? What social functions does gossip perform? What good does it do and what damage does it cause? Who are its victors, and what happens to its victims? What does gossip do for plots, and how does it comment on literary form and purpose? Like the novels we will read, we will focus on the linguistic, psychological, and ethical significance of gossip, with close attention to the pleasuresand dangersof entertaining ourselves with stories about the private lives of other people.
Evaluation MethodPapers, oral presentations, Blackboard posts, and participation in class discussion. Two short papers (4-5 pages) and final paper (8-10 pages).
Class NotesMaha Jafri teaches and writes about Victorian literature. Her research interests include gossip, the novel, narrative, psychoanalysis, theories of community and sociability, and etiquette.
Enrollment RequirementsEnrollment Requirements: Reserved for Freshmen and Sophomores
Current as of 03/20/14 10:52:50 AM