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Communities of Gossip in Late Eighteenth-Century Fiction

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abstract
Gossip has long been a subject of critical attention in Jane Austen's novels, particularly regarding individual characters, such as the ladies Jennings, Gardiner, Bates and Norris, who are known for their chatter. Less recognized in eighteenth-century studies of gossip have been Eliza Haywood's The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless and Frances Burney's Evelina, despite the fact that each of these works provides rich material for such exploration. This thesis, then, will attempt to fill gaps in Haywood and Burney scholarship, while also adding to Austen criticism by approaching the idea of gossip in Emma and Pride and Prejudice from a new angle. Rather than focusing on individual “gossips,” I will attempt to draw attention toward the presence of a seamless gossip network that forms under the surface in each of the above narratives, functioning as a collective character. Of particular interest will be the speed and efficiency with which news and gossip travel through these close-knit communities, the ways in which Haywood, Burney, and Austen represent the phenomenon of behind-the- scenes information sharing, and the interactions that take place between gossip networks and the novels' respective female protagonists.
subject
Communication
Eliza Haywood
Frances Burney
Gossip
Jane Austen
Society
contributor
Poe, Emily Lynn (author)
Richard, Jessica (committee chair)
DeShazer, Mary (committee member)
Hena, Omaar (committee member)
date
2011-07-14T20:36:32Z (accessioned)
2011-07-14T20:36:32Z (available)
2011 (issued)
degree
English (discipline)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/33504 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
title
Communities of Gossip in Late Eighteenth-Century Fiction
type
Thesis

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