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The Drama of Celebrity
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Sharon Marcus
The Drama of Celebrity by Sharon Marcus at Abbey's Bookshop,

The Drama of Celebrity

Sharon Marcus


Princeton University Press

Film, TV & Radio;
Social & cultural history;
Cultural studies;
Popular culture;
Media studies;
Gender studies, gender groups


328 pages

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A bold new account of how celebrity works Why do so many people care so much about celebrities? Who decides who gets to be a star? What are the privileges and pleasures of fandom? Do celebrities ever deserve the outsized attention they receive?

In this fascinating and deeply researched book, Sharon Marcus challenges everything you thought you knew about our obsession with fame. Icons are not merely famous for being famous; the media alone cannot make or break stars; fans are not simply passive dupes. Instead, journalists, the public, and celebrities themselves all compete, passionately and expertly, to shape the stories we tell about celebrities and fans. The result: a high-stakes drama as endless as it is unpredictable.

Drawing on scrapbooks, personal diaries, and vintage fan mail, Marcus traces celebrity culture back to its nineteenth-century roots, when people the world over found themselves captivated by celebrity chefs, bad-boy poets, and actors such as the divine Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), as famous in her day as the Beatles in theirs. Known in her youth for sleeping in a coffin, hailed in maturity as a woman of genius, Bernhardt became a global superstar thanks to savvy engagement with her era's most innovative media and technologies: the popular press, commercial photography, and speedy new forms of travel.

Whether you love celebrity culture or hate it, The Drama of Celebrity will change how you think about one of the most important phenomena of modern times.

By:   Sharon Marcus
Imprint:   Princeton University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 155mm, 
ISBN:   9780691177595
ISBN 10:   0691177597
Pages:   328
Publication Date:   May 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Unspecified

Sharon Marcus is the Orlando Harriman Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is a founding editor of Public Books and the author of the award-winning Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England (Princeton) and Apartment Stories: City and Home in Nineteenth-Century Paris and London. Twitter @MarcusSharon

I have not read such a stimulating and original book for a long time. Marcus brings the experience and thrill of nineteenth-century theater to life, but that is only the start of it. With extraordinary elegance, she manages to think about the historical and the theoretical together, and this book will swiftly establish itself as one of enduring value and importance. --Clare Pettitt, King's College London One of the great strengths of The Drama of Celebrity is its insistence--and proof--that the forms of celebrity and fandom we consider so modern go back at least to the middle of the nineteenth century. It is the fans who emerge as the stars of this book. --Eric Smoodin, University of California, Davis The Drama of Celebrity is a stunning work of cultural history and social theory about what creates stars on the stage, the screen, and all platforms in between. Sharon Marcus has written both a brilliant account of the different actors whose work can make or break a celebrity, and a fascinating investigation into why so many people care. The result is a memorable book that will engage readers across the academy and beyond. --Eric Klinenberg, author of Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life How did present-day ideas about celebrity come into being? What--and who--makes a celebrity? Excavating a cornucopia of unlikely sources, from dreams about celebrities to scrapbooks kept by ordinary fans, Sharon Marcus reveals the origins of celebrity culture to lie in dramatic negotiations between publics, media, and celebrities themselves. The resulting book is itself dramatic: a deeply researched story that manages to provide a long history of this timeliest of phenomena. --Leah Price, Harvard University Utterly brilliant. Marcus travels back to the nineteenth century and returns bearing a high-definition mirror for our own celebrity-driven era. She maps the dynamics of fame, reveals their consistency through time, and teaches us how to better inhabit our mediated world today. No fan could ask for more. --Fred Turner, author of The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties With prismatic clarity based on authoritative scholarship, The Drama of Celebrity refracts the dazzling light of star power into its constituent colors. Scores of celebrities, past and present, share the limelight, but the exemplary Sarah Bernhardt, golden-voiced queen of the unforgettable gesture, commands center stage throughout Sharon Marcus's field-defining and compellingly readable book. --Joseph Roach, author of The Player's Passion: Studies in the Science of Acting and It A landmark book for the history of popular culture. Combining a rigorous analytical intelligence with deep, meticulous research into neglected sources such as fan scrapbooks, Marcus demonstrates how the nineteenth-century theater set the mold for celebrity culture today. A brilliant, transformative account of the way that celebrity works. --Deborah Cohen, author of Family Secrets: Shame and Privacy in Modern Britain

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