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Late-Victorian Celebrity Culture: The Interaction of Celebrity, Media and Consumers

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
Publication date2020
Number of pages329
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Thesis sponsors
  • Economic and Social Research Council
Award date25/06/2020
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

This thesis argues for an amendment to the traditional scholarly visualisation of how celebrity culture functions. In making this argument it looks at the context of late-Victorian Britain, a space and time that I argue harboured the first mass celebrity culture. Instead of the cleanly divided triptych of celebrity, media, and consumers (as proposed most recently by Sharon Marcus), a more integrative model is proposed that seeks to reflect how the three central agents interact and merge seamlessly into one another. This merging of roles, I argue, is a result of the more indiscriminatory, ambiguous, and ‘liquid’ nature of celebrity fame that - unlike the more rigid fame of heroism - does not need to conform as much to pre-set cultural types. In making this argument the thesis looks at four late-Victorian celebrity activities (autobiography, biography, interviews, autograph collecting) that serve as both the central primary sources as well as chapter focuses. In each activity-based chapter the thesis investigates the complex interplay of the three fundamental agents of celebrity, particularly the ways in which they both conflicted and coalesced seamlessly into one another. By doing this, the thesis aims to help inter-disciplinary scholars of celebrity sharpen their theoretical conceptualisation of the phenomenon as well as demonstrate the necessity of accounting for celebrity culture in any thorough discussion of late-Victorian popular culture.