College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date

8-2013

Document Type

Thesis

College/Department Conferring Degree

English

Keywords

gossip, regulation, presentation, communities, power

Abstract

The formulaic structure of each character in I Am Cahrlotte Simmons does not only represent their individual qualities, but also the mentality of the social spheres they strive to be a part of. Namely, the reader is able to see how each character intentionally conforms to stereotypes in order to stay a part of his respective social domains. To do this, however, they often have to socially present themselves in a manner that controls the kind of information spread about them. This is because gossip frequently occurs when one publicly presents themselves in a manner that is contrary to the social expectations of their community. In other words, the mere potential for gossip is enough to make the primary characters present themselves in ways that are conducive to their social group’s image. In doing so, they are able to maintain their standing within their social community. Thus, I posit that a close reading of I Am Charlotte Simmons demonstrates how gossip transcends its petty associations by revealing a greater regulatory capacity, a capacity which is maintained through its power to influence social presentation. To clarify here, I do not mean to suggest that gossip has positive qualities, but rather that it has much more complex functions than mere pettiness.

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