What defines celebrity? Why is the ubiquitous cult of celebrity so important in contemporary Western culture? Through its combination of classic pieces and more contemporary writings, The Celebrity Culture Reader examines the proliferation of the study of celebrity over the last two decades, and the significance and importance of celebrity in contemporary culture.
The contributors look at the cult of celebrity from Alexander the Great, to the transformation of the actor into a public person in the eighteenth century, to the industrial apparatus leading to the star system in early narrative film. Taking a broad definition of the concept of celebrity, the Reader discusses music celebrity as personified by New Kids on the Block, the celebrity status of literary authors, the emergence of CEOs as corporate business celebrities, and the role of celebrity in politics. Individual articles move from discussion of recognized celebrities such as Madonna, Michael Jackson and Princess Diana through to reality television and the idea that through enough self-promotion, anyone can now achieve celebrity status.
The Celebrity Culture Reader is divided into the following sections, each with an introduction by the editor:
* Celebrity and Modernity: The Historical Pattern of Celebrity
* The Textual and the ExtraTextual Dimensions of the Public Persona
* Ascribed Celebrity: the Transformed Public Sphere
* Transgression: Scandal, Notoriety and Infamy
* The Body and Celebrity
* Celebrity Culture: Narcissism, Fandom and the Will-to-Celebrity
* Celebrity Nation: Celebrity in National Contexts
* The Celebrity Industry: the Management of Fame
* Surface and Depth: Celebrity in the 'Post-Celebrity' Era