Lauren and I heard that Harvard head librarian and Cultural Historian was giving a lecture on his latest interest titled Blogging in the 18th Century we knew this was an event not to be missed. When Dr. Darnton opened his address with, "My subject is scandalous," followed by "I hope no one under the age of sixteen is here.." it confirmed we were in the right place.
Dr. Darnton's argument was that gossip and gossip mongering is "not as trivial as we suppose" and it should be drawn on more in our study of history, especially in times and places where the society thrived on gossip such as 16th century Italy or 18th century France and England. Not only does petty gossip of the time tell us much about the society and its interests but it can also reveal some little known facts about historical people which shouldn't be entirely disregarded.
I've seen Dr. Darnton is due to deliver this lecture at other locations, so if you have the opportunity to hear him speak, don't delay in taking it! For more on this topic, Dr. Darnton has an article up on the NYR Blog.