Crucibles of Celebrity: Fame in the Eighteenth Century

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An interdisciplinary day workshop on the intersections between an emerging celebrity culture and Christianity, crime, and courts.

Stella Tillyard’s description of eighteenth-century Britain as the “crucible of celebrity”  has been widely influential in histories of the modern concept of fame; both as an invitation to draw out parallels between the past and the present, and as a warning to pay attention to their differences. Studies of the emergence of celebrity in the period, though, do not often look beyond the venues and people which most obviously resemble the places and faces of stardom today: theatres and actresses, gossip magazines and concert halls. As a consequence, we may be ignoring many of the most famous figures in eighteenth-century Europe, as well as their impact on developing ideas of fame. This workshop seeks to draw attention back to the continuing importance of religion, royal or elite patronage, and crime and scandal; taking an informal and interdisciplinary approach to a range of figures, from George Whitefield to the Princesse de Lamballe, and from Alfred the Great to anonymous highwaymen.

1 | Celebrity and Christianity
Dr Peter Forsaith (Church History, Oxford Brookes), Simon Lewis (History, Univ), Jessica Haldeman (English, York)

2 | Court and Elite
Dr Oliver Cox (History, TORCH, Oxford), Arlene Leis (Art History, York), Sarah Grant (History, St Hilda's)

3 | Notoreity
Dr Nicola Phillips (History, Kingston University London), Camille Pidoux (English, Lincoln), Dr Catherine Watson (History, Oxford Brookes)

Please click here for the event poster

FREE and open to all – to register or for more information email


Celebrity Research

Contact name: Ruth Scobie

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Audience: Open to all