Spring 2016 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
In this course we will examine the history, shifting definitions, and ideological importance of stardom and celebrity, including notoriety, in mass-mediated culture from the early twentieth century through the present. In addition to analyzing in detail how representative stars and celebrities are constructed, we will investigate how and what it is that various famous individuals signify to audiences who receive or â€œconsumeâ€ them in films and television shows, publicity and promotional material, magazines and photographs, tabloids, advertisements, and on the Internet. Among the questions driving the course are how stars, celebrities, and â€œpersonalitiesâ€ embody and represent (or, conversely, suppress) issues of gender and sexual identity, race, ethnicity, class, nationality, scandal, transgression, politics, success, and power during particular times and in reaction to and interaction with particular historical and material circumstances and media technologies, including social media. Generally, classes will consist of lecture (augmented by brief screenings of relevant material) as well as discussion of the reading and screening for the week.
Any required textbooks have not yet been decided upon (they may be assigned as e-books, available through McDermott Library). A variety of readings will be posted on eLearning or electronic reserve. Films and television shows will be assigned weekly for out-of-class screening and are required texts as well.
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Each student will be responsible for an in-class presentation, performed with partners, about a particular star or celebrity from any field (chosen in consultation with the instructor) and a short essay (of 4-5 pages) about the same topic, and a final critical or research paper (8-10 pages) on a topic of interest to the student (but again chosen in consultation with the instructor). There will be two in-class exams.