The battle between public incivility and private tact has never been more relevant. This striking work explores the arguments made for and against three forces that have transformed American life in the past century--invasive journalism, realistic ...
tic fiction, and sex reform. Rochelle Gurstein examines the unexpected consequences of the victory of the "party of exposure," which opened the public sphere to once private matters, and considers the positions of the "party of reticence," which believed that an indiscriminate display of private matters deformed taste and judgment, lowered the tone of public conversation, and polluted public space. Gurstein's penetrating analysis establishes the vital connection between legal-cultural history and current debates over obscenity, privacy, and public decency.