Module Catalogue 2021/22

MCH2080 : Celebrity Culture

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Gareth Longstaff
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 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 critical and contextual understanding of ‘celebrity culture’ within the associated fields of media, culture and communication.
2. Allow participants to develop specialisms on the basis of specific interests (e.g. celebrity identity and identification; the representational and self-representational discourses of celebrity; celebrity and psychoanalysis; social media and celebrity; cultural/political economies of celebrity; ‘fans’ and audiences; celebrity and reality; celebrity death; celebrity and politics; intersectionality and celebrity; micro- and post-celebrity culture; celebrity influence, consumption and capital).
3. Encourage students to consolidate methodological and critical skills in studying practices, texts, epistemological, qualitative and quantitative material in the spheres of celebrity culture, media, communication and cultural 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 critical resources allied to individual case studies of specific ‘celebrities’, cultural trends and practices.

The module aims to critically and theoretically investigate the construction and consumption of celebrity in the 20th and 21st centuries. It will do so by locating and mapping the paradoxical and contingent nature of fame, public and private selves and cultural visibility. The module will situate the conflicting and contrasting notion of ‘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 will include:
What is ‘Celebrity’? : Histories, Themes, Issues and Paradigms?
Theories of ‘celebrity’ and ‘celebrity culture’;
Celebrity Representation, Discourse And Identity
The Psychoanalysis of Celebrity
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 Discourse; Authenticity, amateurism and performativity
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’. Upon successful completion of the module students will possess the knowledge necessary to:

1. Critically assess the historical construction and emergence of ‘celebrities’ and cultural changes that have led to what has become ‘celebrity culture’
2. Analyse and critique the concepts of fame, celebrity and status and apply theoretical approaches to key concepts which examine the relationship between celebrity and related media
3. Relate celebrity to wider theoretical and social issues such as racial, political and economic developments in media communication, technologies and genres.
4. Demonstrate engagement with social media, web sources and teaching and learning packages such as Canvas.
5. Plan and execute a research topic allied to a pre-set essay question by identifying hypotheses and relevant source material, and engaging with various texts and theoretical approaches.
6. Present research findings in a succinct manner, deploying a range of cultural and communications theories and/or methodologies.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this module students will be able to:
1. Identify, define and understand how celebrity culture aligns to other strands of media, communication and cultural studies.
2. Demonstrate an awareness of key concepts, theories and approaches relevant to celebrity culture and its relationship to media, communication and cultural studies.
3. Formulate, develop and apply critically led research questions to a pre-set essay question.
4. Analyse, interpret and evaluate primary and secondary research data to critically discuss celebrity culture.
5. Demonstrate conformity to the principles of academic writing.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00Online, non-synchronous. Pre-recorded sessions & supporting sways allied to readings & concepts
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00Enhancement and consolidation lectures to take place on campus. Can be delivered online if necessary
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Assessment 1 - Essay Planning
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion180:0080:00Assessment 2 - Essay
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading167:0067:00n/a
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Seminar-format discussion of key issues. Configurable to online non-synchronous if necessary
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, communication and cultural studies. Theories of identity, representation and discourses of culture will be discussed in relation to historical and cultural context, consumption and production, media texts and cultural economies of fame. Non-synchronous sessions will introduce and develop ideas and present-in-person work allows students to consider and consolidate material in more practical detail. This will be combined with online discussion, independent study, and the development of key contexts and concepts by the individual to inform the final summative essay.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M20Essay Plan - 500 words - to include a 150-word abstract and a 350-word structured account of key areas of investigation / argument
Essay1A803000-word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

There will be a summative essay plan assessment submitted in week 10 which will allow students to plan towards the assessment. Students will have to show a detailed and thorough understanding of specific research methods and theoretical approaches used in the area of celebrity culture and media/cultural studies and to present their findings in an original, coherent, credible and convincing abstract (150 words) and essay plan (350 words).

The 3000-word critical/theoretical essay will allow students to demonstrate analytical and critical skills, to develop their information literacy and to enhance 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.

This 20% weighted essay plan allows students to test their ideas for the final 80% weighted essay on the module as well as encouraging students to engage with and consolidate a scholarly argument and academic perspective in a contemporary field of study. 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 2021/22 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 2022/23 entry will be published here in early-April 2022. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.