Dr. Katrin Horn and Selina Foltinek, B.A. (University of Bayreuth): "Nineteenth-Century Tattle Tales: Tracing Gossip in Archives and Databases“


    26.01.2022, 12:15-14:00

    Gossip has been defined as "informational black market" (Kapferer 9) as well as "a discourse that negates and conflates the dialectics of inside and outside in its movement between the private and the public realms" (Bastin 24) and that "thrives when the facts are uncertain" (Merry 275). It is thus both a transgressive and an intimate mode of knowledge – and one that has received little attention within American Studies. The DFG-funded research project "The Economy and Epistemology of Gossip in Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century US American Literature and Culture" in contrast asserts that gossip offers an insightful lens through which to address crucial changes in the conception of privacy, speculation, sexuality, and celebrity which characterized the late 19th century. To make this argument, the project relies on fiction, life writing, and periodicals. Working with at least the latter two sources requires archival research. As this talk will illustrate, understanding both the object of study – a networked form of knowledge – and its sources – letters, diaries, and articles – can be meaningfully aided by the incorporation of tools from the Digital Humanities. In introducing the digital outlet of this research project, ArchivalGossip.com, Katrin Horn and Selina Foltinek will address the challenges and affordances of working with archival material and DH methods as part of an inquiry into US American cultural history.

    Katrin Horn is an assistant professor (akad. Rätin a. Z.) at the chair of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures/American Studies at the University of Bayreuth, where she currently leads a research project, funded by the German Research Foundation (2019–2022), on the Economy and Epistemology of Gossip in 19th- and Early 20th-Century US-American Literature and Culture. A growing selection of historical records related to her study of gossip is made available via ArchivalGossip. The website has been selected as one of the digital pilot projects for the Recovery Hub for American Writers Cultivation in 2021.
    Katrin Horn has received her PhD in American Studies from FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg with a thesis on queer interventions in contemporary popular culture. Her research focuses on gender studies, contemporary popular culture, literatures of the long nineteenth century, and the history of knowledge. Her publications include the monograph Women, Camp, and Popular Culture –Serious Excess (Palgrave, 2017), the co-edited collections Stimme, Kultur, Identität. Vokaler Ausdruck in der populären Musik der USA, 1900-1960 (transcript, 2015) and American Cultures as Transnational Performance: Traces, Commons, Skills (Routledge, 2021), as well as articles on various aspects of US American culture, most recently “‘every one knew.’ Epistemologies of the City in Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence” (Edith Wharton Review) and “The Public Gossip of Town Topics: The Journal of Society (1885-1937)” (European Journal of American Studies).
    Selina Foltinek is a research associate in the DFG-funded project Economy and Epistemology of Gossip in 19th- and Early 20th-Century US-American Literature and Culture. In 2019, she started her Ph.D. project that is tentatively titled “Knowledge and Agency in Queer Women’s Semi-Autobiographical Narratives: Three Different Contexts 1859-1987.” She published her article “Creative Openings and World-Making: Postcritique, Reparative Readings, and Anzaldúa’s Borderlands(COPAS 21/1) in 2020, which grants first insights into this research. Her research interests include gender and queer studies, postcritical and reparative readings, knowledge production, and US-American literatures from the 19th and 20th century. She completed her first state exam at the FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg in 2018/19 (Staatsexamen LAG) and holds a B.A. in English and History. In 2020, she received the Duke University Post-Graduate Research Fellowship of the Bavarian American Academy (BAA) to research at the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Social Sciences (REGSS) of Duke University, United States. For ArchivalGossip.com, she works on digital collections of gossip-related archival documents for actress Charlotte Cushman and the women gossip columnists Anne Brewster and Grace Greenwood.


    If you are interested in participating in this online event, please sign up by sending an email with the subject line “GOSSIP” to ina.bergmann@uni-wuerzburg.de by January 25, 2022. Please include your full name, affiliation or address.


    American Studies Würzburg (AmWü)
    Prof. Dr. Ina Bergmann