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Module

MCH2080 : Celebrity Culture

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Gareth Longstaff
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

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
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
The tensions between representational and self-representational discourse of celebrity
The relationship between online and offline settings and how this aligns to our understanding and perception of celebrity

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion180:0080:00Assessment 2 - Essay
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00Enhancement 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 StudyDirected research and reading167:0067:00n/a
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Seminar-format discussion of key issues. On campus; online non-synchronous if necessary
Total200:00
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 mid semester timed assessment and the final summative essay.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M40Timed Assessment - 1500 words
Essay2A602500-word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The timed assessment will be submitted in week 8 and 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 consolidate 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 contemporary academic field. Both assessments allow students to develop critical and evaluative skills and stresses the importance of working to deadlines and goals.

Reading Lists

Timetable