In the Limelight and Under the Microscope: Forms and Functions of Female
Edited by Diane Negra and Su Holmes
Proposals are sought for an edited collection on the politics of female
celebrity across a range of contemporary, historical, media and national
contexts. From Reality TV, gossip blogging and media scandals, to
narratives of the celebrity 'trainwreck' or breakdown, women are
positioned at the centre of contemporary celebrity culture. Although
film studies and media studies have long since examined questions of
gender at the level of star or celebrity image, attempts to explore the
wider 'gendering' of fame as a concept, set of ideologies and
representational practices have been marginal. Indeed, in 2000,
Christine Geraghty observed how women are 'particularly likely to be
seen as celebrities [rather than 'stars'] whose working life is of less
interest than their personal life' (Geraghty, 2000: 12) - in part
because women are more identified with the private sphere, and their
value as 'workers' in the public sphere has historically had to struggle
for cultural legitimacy. Yet despite the fact that the media and
cultural fascination with the 'private' lives and identities of the
famous has accelerated substantially since Geraghty was writing, and
despite the fact that the apparently devalued currency of celebrity -
the now familiar laments regarding the decline of 'talent' and 'work' -
have been articulated with increasing fervor, there has been little
academic analysis of the significance of the gendered politics of
celebrity. This collection will seek to interrogate the representational
tropes and map the broad terrain of female celebrity.
Questions/ topics may include, but are not limited to:
* How is the perceived uncoupling of talent from fame a
particularly gendered phenomenon? Is it postfeminist?
* To what extent has Reality TV function to articulate gendered
forms of fame?
* How do codes for celebrity representation articulate sexist
logics (and how might these intersect with discourses of race, age,
class and sexuality)?
* To what extent are these discourses 'new', and how can we
excavate historical precedents?
* How are gendered constructions of celebrity particularized
within national contexts?
* What contemporary/ historical views about 'appropriate' forms of
femininity are articulated via the representation of female celebrities?
* How does the surveillance of the female celebrity body - in such
forms as plastic surgery narratives, celebrity magazines and internet
gossip blogging - function within this context?
* What drives the fascination/repulsion for 'bad' women/girls in
* How do new delivery systems such as YouTube, and older ones like
celebrity magazines, favor and foster the spectacle of female 'train
* How do discourses of motherhood, maternalism, family, the
'work/life balance' and the concept of the celebrity couple shape images
of female celebrity?
* How are female celebrities placed in an expanded environment of
paparazzism and mainstreamed tabloid media?
Please send proposals (maximum 300 words), accompanied by a short
biographical note, to Dr Su Holmes ([log in to unmask]) and
Professor Diane Negra ([log in to unmask]) by 28 February, 2009.
Dr Su Holmes
School of Film and Television Studies
University of East Anglia
Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 7TJ
Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite