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Rebecca (Becky) Fell

Becky Fell

Rebecca (Becky) Fell


Clare College


The objective of my research project is to explore the role of ‘gossip’ in late 19th Century and early 20th Century Hispanic literature, in particular in the later novels of Emilia Pardo Bazán and Clarín’s La Regenta and José Rizal’s Noli me tangereJosé Rizal was a contemporary of Clarín and Pardo Bazán in the Philippines. In its most obvious form, gossip operates as a thematic device for plot construction and internal ‘commentary’ on the nature and behaviours of characters in realist literature of the time.  However, I would also like to explore gossip as a metaphor for the medium of the novel of this period, with a view to seeing what this lens, and theories on the psychology of gossip, might reveal.  Considering the etymology of the word ‘gossip’ and its Spanish equivalents, I have categorised my research into three, interdependent strands: gossip as dialogue, gossip as catechism and gossip as discourse.  Sub-strands include (i) exploring gossip as a gender-neutral, positive exchange, for example, a mode for settling up imagined communities, (ii) gossip as the handmaid/manservant of the ’Symbolic’ in novels of the period and (iii) gossip as double-voiced discourse, its economics crossing the border between symbolic and social capital, feeding and/or eroding them both.