‘Celebrity: An Unauthorised History’ points a telephoto lens at one of modernity’s most mesmerising and perplexing cultural phenomena: stardom. The course begins and ends in London. We will open in the eighteenth century, when David Garrick, first superstar of the theatre, is treading the boards. The curtain closes in 1997, when the late Princess Diana is became the focus for a world in mourning. Between those two points, this course will drive a wide arc through the interrelated worlds of politics and entertainment, reflecting on forms of celebrity in diverse cultures and contexts. Drawing from historian Fred Inglis' argument that celebrity is a ‘product of culture and technology’, an ‘adhesive’ that pulls together ‘public politics, civil society, and private domestic life’, this journey through the history of celebrity will track the rise of individualism, consumerism, the arrival of mass media and the emerging impact of digital formats and social media. The course shows that celebrity—and our preoccupation with it—reveals much about our society and even more about ourselves.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- demonstrate an understanding of the factors shaping the cultural phenomenon of celebrity and its iterations over an extended period of history;
- explain the influence or impact of those factors and the areas and periods of change associated with them;
- assess a range of historiographical approaches to 'celebrity', and to related areas of social and political change;
- demonstrate research skills in working with a diversity of historical and secondary sources; and
- construct an evidence-based historical argument in a form suitable to its purpose and target audience.
- Document Exercise, 1000 words (20%) Learning outcomes 1-5 (20) [LO null]
- Essay, 2500 words (40%) Learning outcomes 1-5 (40) [LO null]
- Tutorial Participation (10%) Learning outcomes 1-3, 5 (10) [LO null]
- Online quiz (10%) Learning outcomes 1, 2 (10) [LO null]
- Final open book examination, held during the exam period (20%) Learning outcomes 1-3, 5 (20) [LO null]
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Workload130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorials and tutorial-like activities; and
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Preliminary ReadingFred Inglis, A Short History of Celebrity (Princeton)
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- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
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