This one-day event sponsored by the School of Film and Television Studies will examine how discourses of tabloidism, “reality,” and scandal shape the construction of female celebrity in contemporary and historical periods. It originates with the broadly-felt sense that female celebrity (at least of a certain kind) is seen to be depreciating in value and it asks why this might be the case. While work on stardom/ celebrity has acknowledged the existence of hierarchies of fame, surprisingly little attention has been paid to how such hierarchies are gendered. We will explore whether such hierarchies have intensified of late and the factors which are shaping this process, while also reflecting on how this shift might constitute a challenge for the next wave of scholarship on stardom/celebrity.
Questions include, but are not limited to: Is the perceived uncoupling of talent from fame in fact a particularly gendered phenomenon? Is it postfeminist? How do new delivery systems such as YouTube and older ones like celebrity magazines favor and foster the spectacle of female “train wreck” celebrity? What kinds of narratives about wealth and class do these female celebrities anchor and how do they uphold or challenge nationalized/regionalized archetypes of the “chav” or “white trash?” How do the scandals in which they so often figure differ from those of some male celebrities (as was amply demonstrated in 2007 when a comparative dignity and respectful distance was accorded by a variety of media outlets after Owen Wilson’s suicide attempt)? What contemporary views about female sexuality are inscribed onto the bodies of these celebrities? What drives the fascination/repulsion for “bad” women/girls (Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Rosie O’Donnell, Amy Winehouse, Charlotte Church, Jade Goody) in today’s celebrity culture and what are the historical precedents for this? Related and proximate topics including divadom, celebrity feuds, the “toxic” celebrity couple, and the potential reinforcement of age-old cultural prohibitions on attention-seeking as “unfeminine” will also factor in symposium discussions.
We are accepting a limited number of papers for this event. To propose a paper, please send a 300 word abstract and short biographical note by March 15 to both Professor Diane Negra (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr. Su Holmes (email@example.com) in the School of Film and Television Studies at UEA.
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