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Words Unofficial: Gossip, Circulation, Mediation

November 19-20, 2015


From Chaucer’s House of Fame to Gossip Girl, the distortive power of rumor and gossip has long generated both fascination and anxiety across media, genres, and periods. In the digital age, unofficial discourse has acquired the potential for frenzied transmission, often substantiating established fears surrounding the nebulous nature of the intermediary. The fascination and paranoia attached to the spread and (mis)handling of information speaks to a deeply-rooted unease around origins, third-parties, and modes of exchange. To label gossip as solely nefarious, however, ignores its positive manifestations as participatory, subversive, and empowering, as well as its potential role in anti-hegemonic discourse or storytelling.

This conference will explore how various forms and modes, both literary and otherwise, have treated information misplaced and in motion. This conference will foster a cross-disciplinary and cross-temporal conversation, reflecting on various interpretations of unrecognized or cryptic modes of communication.

Keynote Speaker:
Susan Phillips, Northwestern University

Faculty Roundtable:
Natasha Barnes, University of Illinois at Chicago
Peter Coviello, University of Illinois at Chicago
Patrick Jagoda, University of Chicago
Lynn Spigel, Northwestern University

For more information, please visit the conference website.

This event is co-sponsored by The Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory, Department of Cinema and Media Studies, Department of English Language and Literature, Division of the Humanities, Franke Institute for the Humanities, Humanities Visiting Committee at the University of Chicago, Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture, and The Nicholson Center for British Studies.