Call for Submissions: Hedda Hopper

Dilettante Army’s Summer 2021 issue, Hedda Hopper, will investigate the uses, mechanics, and consumption of gossip. 

A quick-witted, stylish, and politically conservative gossip columnist, Hedda Hopper is known for chronicling the private lives of stars in Hollywood’s Golden Age. Her syndicated newspaper column, first published in 1938, reached millions of readers across the United States, moving “private talk” into the public sphere. She merged her role as a publicist for the movie industry with her drive to legislate public morality, using the entertainment world to advocate for Republican politics. Hopper used her column to argue against U.S. intervention in WWII, decry the Civil Rights movement, and collaborate with the FBI to expose suspected communists. 

Hopper’s column could be threatening and vindictive. But much of her gossip, like most gossip in general, was informative and neutral, even positive. What role does gossip play in enforcing social norms and forging social bonds? How does innuendo invite or defer the presentation of evidence? Do the politics of the entertainment industry nullify its potential for critique and social change?

For this issue, Dilettante Army’s entire site will be redesigned in the aesthetics and language of a 1940s-style gossip magazine.

Dilettante Army invites scholarly submissions on gossip. Topics might include: blind items, the currency of reputation, virtue, the Frankfurt School in California, disinformation, feuds, Charlie Chaplin’s deportation, whisper networks, the court of public opinion, spilling the tea, public personas, star vehicles, publicity machines, and noteworthy women with impressive hats.

Submission pitches should be emailed to editor Sara Clugage ( by March 9, 2021. Before submitting, please read our submission guidelines for more information on what we publish.

Image: Hedda Hopper photographed in 1961 by Paul A. Hesse Studios, Hollywood, CA, via the archives of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.