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  • 2021FletcherPhD

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Gothic Celebrity: Fame and Immortality From Lord Byron to Lady Gaga

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2021
Number of pages330
Awarding Institution
Award date30/09/2021
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis argues that mortality and immortality are central to the Gothic representation of celebrities in narratives and wider culture, which reveals that discourses of Gothic and celebrity are continually used as vehicles for exploring how modern Western culture deals with ageing and death. It identifies the originating moment of this trend in canonical Gothic texts: Lord Byron’s fictionalisation in John Polidori’s ‘The Vampyre’ (1819), and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). It then explores the manifestations of Gothic celebrity in mid-century Hollywood film, postmodern art and post-millennial television. Texts within this tradition use established Gothic conventions of vampirism, decaying portraits and ageing bodies to engage with themes of mortality and immortality surrounding the figure of the celebrity in modern culture.
This thesis breaks new ground by combining two burgeoning scholarly fields that have not yet been explored together: Gothic studies and celebrity studies. My analysis of Gothic celebrity texts makes an original contribution to both fields of study. While many Gothic studies critics have examined the Gothic in popular culture (Edwards and Soltysik Monnet, 2012), a specific focus on celebrity has been overlooked. Furthermore, much of the work on celebrity studies has been undertaken in media and cultural studies, but I use the theoretical framework of Gothic literary studies to analyse texts in different media. My thesis reveals that celebrity culture continues to exhibit Gothic sensibilities in relation to mortality and immortality and concludes by exploring how the tradition of Gothic celebrity presents an alternative narrative about celebrity culture’s longstanding tension between renewal and decay.