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Celebrity Research

A joint initiative between the Faculties of English, History and Modern Languages, the Oxford Celebrity Network brings together scholars working across the Humanities division.

‘Celebrity’ is often cited as one of the defining characteristics of western modernity. But celebrity has a history, which has rarely been explored in detail. In recent years, though, concepts of fame and celebrity have become more and more important to scholars of history, literature, music, art, politics and philosophy, among others. This network’s main aim has been to deepen and enrich thinking about the concept by drawing together a range of new perspectives spanning different periods to explore how it relates to concepts such as renown, glory, honour, image or charisma; and how these are entangled with material, literary and visual culture, technological, social and economic change.

To this end, and with the help of funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and TORCH, the network has run a series of interdisciplinary seminars and other academic activities. Recently, the network has focused on providing support for events related to the study of celebrity run by academics at Oxford and other institutions, including a symposium on the fame of Benjamin Disraeli and the TORCH/ Wolfson College conference ‘After Image: Life-Writing and Celebrity.’ We have also run public engagement activities on the history of celebrity, in partnership with the Ashmolean Museum and the Bodleian Library.

Our website provides more information, and a space for news and blogs related to celebrity research in the Humanities. We are keen to hear from researchers (at Oxford and elsewhere) planning events in this field, who would like support or publicity from the Celebrity Research Network. Contact Dr Ruth Scobie by email or on Twitter, or request to join the network mailing list.

The Rhetoric of Fame

Kate De Rycker demonstrates that the social role of 16th-century English writers was becoming increasingly affected by the developing concept of celebrity.

Authorship, Politics, Celebrity

In this roundtable discussion, Caroline Davis, Olivier Driessens, and Peter D McDonald reflect on literature as a mode of public intervention.

Pegasus and Carthorse

Sandra Mayer assesses the intersections of literary and political fame in Disraeli’s public image.

Working with Hughenden Manor

Oliver Cox (D.Phil, Oxford) and Rob Bandy (manager, Hughenden Manor) discuss how the University of Oxford is working with Hughenden on the Statesman’s Rooms.