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European Celebrity in Historical Perspective

  • Holly Grout (a1)
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*Corresponding author: hlgrout@ua.edu.
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1 Holmes, Su and Redmond, Sean, ‘A Journal in Celebrity Studies’, Celebrity Studies 1, 1 (2010), 7 .

2 Evans, Jessica and Hesmondhalgh, David, eds., Understanding Media: Inside Celebrity (Berkshire: Open University Press, 2005) ; Ferris, Kerry O., ‘The Sociology of Celebrity’, Sociology Compass, 1, 1 (2007), 371384 ; Giles, David, Illusions of Immortality: A Psychology of Fame and Celebrity (New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2000) ; Inglis, Fred, A Short History of Celebrity (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010) ; Marshall, David P., Celebrity and Power: Fame in Contemporary Culture (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1997) ; Morgan, Simon, ‘Celebrity: Academic “Pseudo-Event” or a Useful Category for Historians’, Culture and Social History, 8, 1 (2011), 95114 ; Redman, Sean and Holmes, Su, eds., Stardom and Celebrity (London: Sage, 2007) ; Rojek, Chris, Celebrity (London: Reaktion Books, 2001) ; Turner, Graeme, Understanding Celebrity (London: Sage, 2014) .

3 A notable exception: Chris Rojek and Leon Braudy identify Alexander the Great as the first ‘pre-figurative’ celebrity and as the ‘first famous person’ in history. Rojek, Chris, Celebrity (London: Reaktion Books, 2001) and Braudy, Leon, The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986) .

4 Morgan, Simon, ‘Historicising Celebrity’, Celebrity Studies, 1, 3 (Nov. 2010), 366 . Some recent celebrity biographies include: Cunningham, Hugh, Grace Darling: Victorian Heroine (London: Bloomsbury, 2007) ; Oliver Hilmes, trans. Spencer, Stewart, Franz Liszt: Musician, Celebrity, Superstar (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016) ; Looseley, David, Edith Piaf: A Cultural History (Liverpool: University of Liverpool Press, 2015) ; McWilliam, Rohan, The Tichborne Claimant: A Victorian Sensation (London: Continuum Books 2007) ; Smith, Judith E., Becoming Belafonte: Black Artist, Public Radical (Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 2014) ; Kasson, John F., The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America (New York: W.W. Norton, 2014) ; Riall, Lucy, Garibaldi: Invention of a Hero (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008) . Notable exceptions to the claim above include: Berenson, Edward and Giloi, Eva, eds., Constructing Charisma: Celebrity, Fame, and Power in Nineteenth-Century Europe (New York: Berghahn Books, 2010) ; Hindson, Catherine, London’s West End Actresses and the Origins of Celebrity Charity, 18801920 (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2016) ; Lilti, Antoine, The Invention of Celebrity: 17501850 (Cambridge: Polity Books, 2017) .

5 Morgan, Simon, ‘Historicising Celebrity’, Celebrity Studies, 1, 3 (Nov. 2010), 367 .

6 Ibid., 367.

7 Simon Morgan, ‘Celebrity: Academic “Pseudo-Event”’, 95–7.

8 Ibid., 95, 98.

9 Ibid., 109–10.

10 Ibid., 98.

11 Braudy, The Frenzy of Renown; Berenson and Giloi, eds., Constructing Charisma, 6–7; Evans and Hesmondhalgh, eds., Understanding Media, 4.

12 Holmes and Redmond, ‘A Journal in Celebrity Studies’, 2, 4, and 11; Richard Dyer cited in Sean Redmond and Su Holmes, eds., Stardom and Celebrity, 87. Berenson argues that whereas charisma relies upon an emotional bond between the individual and the audience, fame merely requires that the individual be an object of discussion among an audience with whom s/he may or may not cultivate a connection. Berenson and Giloi, eds., Constructing Charisma, 6.

13 Edward Berenson, ‘Charisma and the Making of Imperial Heroes in Britain and France, 1880–1914’, in Berenson and Giloi, eds., Constructing Charisma, 21–40.

14 Berenson, ‘Charisma and the Making of Imperial Heroes’, 40.

15 Evans and Hesmondhalgh, eds., Understanding Media, 2; Redmond and Holmes eds., Stardom and Celebrity, 309.

16 Edward Berenson and Eva Giloi eds., Constructing Charisma, 17.

17 Ibid., 2; Redmond and Holmes eds., Stardom and Celebrity, 310; Gaffney, John and Holmes, Diana eds., Stardom in Postwar France (NY: Berghahn Books, 2007), 8 .

18 Morgan, ‘Historicising Celebrity’, 366.

19 Evans and Hesmondhalgh highlight the contours of this debate through Daniel Boorstin’s Frankfurt school inspired theory of celebrity as pseudo-event in The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, 1961 and Richard Dyer’s reception focus approach in Stars, 1979 and Heavenly Bodies, 1986. Evans and David Hesmondhalgh, eds., Understanding Media, 6.

20 To this end, Curie worked with fan turned de facto publicist Missy Brown Meloney to undertake a paid publicity tour of the United States; she accepted a gram of radium from admirers for her lab; she became the first honorary member of a female chemistry sorority at the University of Chicago, and she signed copies of Pierre Curie for fundraisers.

21 Redmond and Holmes eds., Stardom and Celebrity, 257; Holmes and Redmond, ‘A Journal in Celebrity Studies’, 4, 7.

22 Gaffney and Holmes eds., Stardom in Postwar France, 1.

23 Dyer argues that celebrities enable ‘access political matters of class, gender, race, and sexuality that underline the dominant ideology of that society at the time’. Dyer cited in Redmond and Holmes eds., Stardom and Celebrity, 258.

24 Berenson makes this same point: ‘even when the trails heroes blaze are too difficult for others to follow, charismatic figures nonetheless open up new possibilities. They do so by demonstrating what can be done and allowing large numbers of people to associate themselves, however indirectly and vicariously, with what they have achieved’. Berenson, ‘Charisma and the Making of Imperial Heroes’, 24.

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Contemporary European History
  • ISSN: 0960-7773
  • EISSN: 1469-2171
  • URL: /core/journals/contemporary-european-history
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