Module Catalogue 2019/20

MCH2080 : Celebrity Culture

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Gareth Longstaff
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment

For all students studying this module outside of MCH a background in Media, Communication and Cultural Studies is recommended

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module aims to:
1.       Enable students to develop a core base in the field of ‘celebrity culture’, associated concepts and media.
2.       Allow participants to develop specialisms on the basis of specific interests (e.g. the media and celebrity; cultural/political economies of celebrity; ‘fans’ and audiences; reality television, gender, representation and identity).
3.       Encourage students to consolidate methodological and critical skills in studying practices, texts, qualitative and quantitative material in the spheres of celebrity culture, celebrity and media studies.
4.       Examine the rise of celebrity culture and the role of celebrities/stars both globally and locally.
5.       Investigate and understand the culturally and temporally specific nature of ‘celebrity’ and fame and to develop case studies of specific ‘celebrities’, cultural trends and practices.

The module aims to critically and theoretically investigate the rise of the celebrity during the twentieth century by locating and mapping the paradoxical and contingent nature of fame. The module will situate the conflicting and contrasting notion of the contemporary ‘celebrity’ alongside established versions of celebrity identity and identification. By positioning the politics of the ‘ordinary’ social sphere against the ‘extraordinary’ world of celebrity culture, it will use literature and theories from the fields of media and cultural studies, critical theory and visual culture to evaluate and bring to bear contexts and case studies. The module will be organised around three key themes :
•       Theoretical approaches to ‘celebrity culture’ and the media
•       Celebrities, discourse, identity and representation
•       Celebrity, consumption, capitalism and cultural change

Outline Of Syllabus

Issues covered to include
What is ‘Celebrity’? : Histories, Themes, Issues and Paradigms?
Theories of ‘celebrity’ and ‘celebrity culture’;
The Media and celebrity; The Inter-textual : Film, TV, Music, Magazines and Internet
The Cultural/Political Economy of Celebrity; Taxonomies of fame
The Audience-in-the-text; Fans, fandom and desire
Profitable Pleasures; Advertising, Branding and Endorsements
Subversive Celebrity Strategies; Pornography, sexuality and ethnicity
Reality television; Authenticity, performance and identification
Death, Violence and celebrity / Murder (infamous) celebrity

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

This module aims to contextualise and explore notions of ‘celebrity’ and ‘celebrity culture’. By the end of the module students will be able to:

critically assess the historical construction and emergence of ‘celebrities’ and cultural changes that have led to what has become ‘celebrity culture’

analyse and critique the concepts of fame, celebrity and status and apply theoretical approaches to case studies

examine the relationship between celebrity and related media

critically reflect upon notions of the audience by examining ‘fandom’ and the ‘fans’ whose devotion and consumer-power prove crucial to maintaining the inter-textual status of celebrities and ultimately ‘celebrity culture’ itself

relate celebrity to wider theoretical and social issues such as racial, political and economic developments in media communication, technologies and genres.

Demonstrate use of web sources and teaching and learning packages

Plan and execute a research essay identifying hypotheses and relevant source material, and engaging with texts and theoretical approaches.

Present research findings in a succinct manner, deploying a range of social scientific, cultural and communications theories and/or methodologies

Intended Skill Outcomes

Textual analysis
Group work and group planning
Essay writing and researching

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion230:0060:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading160:0060:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study144:0044:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module aims to encourage the development and comprehension of contemporary themes and issues in the field of celebrity culture and media studies. Theories of identity, representation and culture will be discussed in relation to historical and cultural context, consumption and production, mass media texts and cultural economies of fame. Lectures and seminars introduce and develop ideas and group work allows students to consider material in more practical detail. A combination of lectures, seminars, group work and oral presentations will be combined with private study, essay writing and case study (or similar) project which investigates key aspects celebrity culture, stardom and fanaticism.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M50Timed Assessment, 1500 words
Essay2A50Essay, 2500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The timed assessment will test students' research skills, problem solving abilities, adaptability and initiative. In an allocated time slot students will have to show a broad and thorough understanding of specific research methods and theoretical approaches used in the area of celebrity culture and media/cultural studies, to apply these methods and to present their findings in an original, coherent, credible and convincing case study report. The length of the report should be 1500 words.

The critical/theoretical essay will allow students to demonstrate analytical and critical skills, to develop their information literacy and to practice their writing skills. They will demonstrate a thorough understanding of the chosen question, its applicability to other areas, its importance in developing research, as well as its limitations. The length of the essay should be 2500 words.

This assessment fits well with the formative side of the module as well as encouraging students to engage with and reflect upon a reinvigorated academic field. The assessment allows students to develop critical and evaluative skills and stresses the importance of working to deadlines and goals.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.