Home > Catalogue > Annali di Ca’ Foscari. Serie occidentale > 49 | 2015 > Gossip Between Social Media and Fiction

Gossip Between Social Media and Fiction

The Case of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom

Giorgia Tommasi    Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, Italia    



Representations of gossip thrive in contemporary American literature and TV series, and they are often tied to the impact the Internet and social media have had on the way we communicate. Far from being a new phenomenon, fictional depictions of gossip are found in the very first forms of literature. In general however, literary narratives have assumed a highbrow attitude toward gossip, linking it to minor, morally flawed characters. Also, being portrayed as idle talk, gossip has often been used in opposition to more refined forms of speech. Yet, gossip is a form of narration that responds to the basic need of all fictions, that is, to tell stories about other people. In the era of social media, gossip has acquired prominence in shaping communication, and one can notice a form of exchange between social media gossiping and fictional representation: while on the net gossip shows literary aspirations, in fictions such as Jonathan Franzen’s ​Freedom​ gossip stands out as a structural device capable to serve both plot formation and character construction. The analysis of the first chapter of ​Freedom​ shows the workings of gossip with the result of destabilizing the one-­dimensionality of the protagonists, giving voice to multiple perspectives on the real and setting up questions that the plot is supposed to solve.

Sept. 1, 2015

Keywords: TV seriesSocial media gossipingFictional depictions of gossipLiterary narratives

Copyright: © 2015 Giorgia Tommasi. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.