From Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding to the newest Kardashian pregnancy, it seems that these days, people are endlessly fascinated with celebrity culture.
In Routledge Handbook of Celebrity Studies, Professor Anthony Elliott analyses the allure of celebrity culture and explains the different aspects of our fascination.
Prof Elliott, UniSA’s Dean of External Engagement, is internationally renowned for his writings on celebrity culture. His biography of the ex-Beatle John Lennon, published by University of California Press, has become one of the most influential books in the field.
“Celebrity is at once astonishingly mesmerising and mind-numbingly dull, crazily libertarian and depressingly conformist,” Prof Elliott says.
“Our culture of celebrity feigns the new, the contemporary, the up-to-date, as it recycles the past. Celebrities are constantly on the brink of obsolescence, of appearing out of date.”
“Ours is the age of celebrity,” Prof Elliott says. “An inescapable aspect of daily life in our media-saturated societies of the 21st century, celebrity is celebrated for its infinite plasticity and glossy seductions.
“But there is also a darker side. Celebrity culture is littered from end to end with addictions, pathologies, neuroses, even suicides.
“Celebrities stand apart from the crowd. Celebrities are necessarily different from mere mortals. Celebrities are unique. To be part of the world of celebrity is to be elsewhere and other.”
Routledge Handbook of Celebrity Studies asks why society is so spellbound by the ideas of celebrity, yet so often dismissive of the celebrated. Prof Elliott includes theoretical insights by various other experts in the field to discuss topics such as the history of celebrities, celebrity fans, as well as non-western celebrity culture, among others.
Utilising Leo Braudy’s 1986 study of fame The Frenzy of Renown as a framework, Prof Elliott explains the nature of celebrity culture today, tracing its origins back to ancient societies in which gods, priests and saints were famous. The basis of Braudy’s study highlights how celebrity fame is completely dependent on media dissemination.
Routledge Handbook of Celebrity Studies also discusses the role of celebrity in cultural life more generally, using events occurring in recent history, such as Princess Diana’s widely televised funeral in 1997. The commercialisation of her death in the form of the reprinting of 500,000 copies of Andrew Morton’s Diana: Her True Story and the release of Elton John’s revised version of Candle in the Wind, which he performed live at her funeral, sensationalised Diana’s death in the public eye.
“The worldwide commercial frenzy for all things Princess Diana, the legacy of which continues to this day, was a heady mix of celebrity, death and globalisation,” Prof Elliott says.
This is only one of many celebrity examinations featured in Prof Elliott’s book.
Published by Routledge, Routledge Handbook of Celebrity Studies is available online.
Today, a large part of our everyday interactions takes place online: we send and receive messages via email and apps; share and tag photos and videos; and tweet, like, click, comment and connect to myriad online communities.
Almost everyone has a Facebook account, and with the popularity of this social media giant growing exponentially, it poses the question: do people communicate differently on Facebook?
In a new book, Facebook and Conversation Analysis: The Structure and Organisation of Comment Threads, UniSA’s Dr Matteo Farina explores this topic, applying conversational analysis methods to deliver previously undocumented insights into the structure of comment threads.
“Every day, 1.3 billion people engage in conversations on Facebook,” Dr Farina says.
“Yet contradictory to what we might assume, these comments have a meaningful organisation, rather than casually following one another.”
“This book describes the sequence and organisation of Facebook comment threads and examines both the comments that open these interactions, and the contributions that come after them.”
By turning this approach towards Facebook comments, Dr Farina provides clear and important insights into the organisation of this type of social interaction.
Supported by a large sample of data, with findings based on a corpus of 213 comment threads, with more than 1200 comments exchanged by 266 contributors, this book makes an important contribution to the understanding of the way people communicate on Facebook.Published by Bloomsbury, the book is available online.