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Gossip and Street Culture in Early Modern Venice

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This is a study of the spatial, social and cultural context of gossip in early modern Venice based on oral testimony to the magistracy of the Avogaria di Comun, and centering on the making of marriages. Recent studies in sociology and anthropology suggest that gossip was part of a complex system of social relationships, particularly within an urban context. Far from being an exclusively female practice, both men and women engaged in gossip, and this exchange of information has much to tell us about a range of social norms. A consideration of the spatial locations within which gossip took place concludes that the circulation of information undermined formal distinctions between the public and the private. It also emphasizes both the importance of visual observation in starting a chain of comments based first on unspoken assumptions, and the role of individuals in deliberately supplying information about themselves to gossip networks.

Affiliations: 1: Northumbria University


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