The Women Studies will host the latest of their Brown Bag Lunch Series from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 15, in room 144 in McGannon Hall. All are welcome.
Lisieux Huelman, Ph.D., will present "'There is No Keeping Anything Quiet in Deerbrook': Gossip and Epistemology in Harriet Martineau's 'Deerbrook'"
Attendees should bring their lunches. Refreshments will be provided.
About the talk:
News spread quickly in nineteenth-century rural English villages. Whether the news related to one couple's engagement or to the spread of disease, village gossips were quick to share knowledge. The eponymous country village of Harriet Martineau's Deerbrook (1839) is no exception; gossip is its defining feature.
Edward Hope, the apothecary-surgeon-hero of the novel, and speaker in the second quote, connects the spread of gossip to the spread of disease, emphasizing that it is often difficult to decipher the origin of either. The novel as a whole, furthermore, suggests that gossip is a social ailment that needs a doctor-like figure to stop its proliferation.
It is significant that Martineau uses the trope of gossip so prominently in one of the first English novels to feature the doctor-hero because this popular novel establishes the pattern for future authors' representations of the doctor that focus on him as part of a community. If the production of gossip is a marker of a community, then one's ability to participate in the act of gossiping-either as subject or speaker-marks one as a member of a community.
Using feminist epistemology to understand communities, and not individuals, as primary knowledge producers, this talk explores how Martineau re-imagines the act of gossiping as productive instead of destructive.