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Celebrity: Academic 'Pseudo-Event' or a Useful Concept for Historians?

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Abstract:

Celebrity is an emergent theme in historical studies. However, except when searching for the antecedents of modern celebrity, theorists have largely ignored the historical context, while few historians have applied contemporary celebrity theory to the period before 1900. This article gives a general introduction to the topic, reinterpreting the assumed relationship between celebrity and modernity and arguing for the existence of distinct celebrity cultures in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It contends that the application of celebrity theory to the past would provide original insights into themes such as the development of consumer society and the expansion of the public sphere before setting out desiderata for future research.

Keywords: CELEBRITY; CHARISMA; CONSUMERISM; HEROES; MODERNITY; PUBLIC SPHERE

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/147800411X12858412044474

Affiliations: School of Cultural Studies, Broadcasting Place A214, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, LS2 9EN, UK;, Email: s.j.morgan@leedsmet.ac.uk

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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