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Study information

Stars, Stardom and Celebrity From the Classical Era to the Contemporary

Module titleStars, Stardom and Celebrity From the Classical Era to the Contemporary
Module codeEAFM910
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Fiona Handyside (Convenor)

Professor Linda Williams (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The field of star studies is one of the richest and best-established in screen studies, drawing together film history, archival research, cultural studies, sociology and psychology. More recently, the field of Celebrity Studies has explored the production and consumption of celebrity in the contemporary milieux of digital technology, social media, and convergence culture. This module engages with the range and depth of approaches to the figure of the star historically and in contemporary culture and provides distinct opportunities for investigating new research into celebrity culture and key figures. It addresses questions such as why screen cultures make use of stars to generate audience appeal; what the broader social meanings of a star or celebrity might be; how star systems work differently in different national cinemas. It closely examines how individual stars and celebrities have generated tremendous transnational appeal; how stardom creates aesthetic and material legacies; and the complex inter-relationship between film stars and celebrity culture more broadly conceived. You will have the opportunity to carry out original research on a star in the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum making use of archival materials. You will also have the opportunity to produce a case study of a star or celebrity from any screen cultural context you choose.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to offer you an insight into the breadth and depth of approaches that star and celebrity studies require. It examines some of the classic film studies texts that established the field of star studies and allowed us to understand the star as having an ideological function as well as a narrative and aesthetic purpose within films. It also engages with the development of celebrity studies as a distinct field drawing on work from sociology, media studies, and communication studies. We also look at some of the newest and most innovative work being carried out on stars, including approaches to how star legacies are preserved, the role stars play in digital celebrity cultures, and how stars function to articulate ideas about gender, nationality, sexuality, and ageing. Questions that will preoccupy us include the question of how to account for the relationship between star, actor and character in film? How is star history preserved? Do stars have political power? How is celebrity culture changing in the digital era? What role does celebrity culture play in contemporary society?

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate an advanced and detailed knowledge of a range of resources concerning stars, stardom and celebrity (including critical and archival material) and the ability to evaluate and discuss their significance from a variety of perspectives.
  • 2. Demonstrate advanced awareness of how stars and celebrities negotiate their identity and the political and cultural significance of this

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Apply advanced critical and analytical skills to archival and screen performance material
  • 4. Demonstrate advanced and autonomous skills in the research and evaluation of critical ideas

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Demonstrate advanced archival and library research skills
  • 6. Demonstrate advanced skills in project planning and execution

Syllabus plan

The module will be team taught by specialists from the department. This is an indicative module structure – the course will include most of the following:

  • What is a Star? What is celebrity? Introductions to the fields
  • The Genesis of Stardom
  • Stardom, Acting and Performance
  • Stardom, Costume, Fashion and Material Archives
  • Celebrity Culture
  • Transnational Stardom and celebrity
  • Ageing Stars
  • Instagram Influencers, YouTubers, Social Media

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Seminars
Guided Independent Study70Reading and viewing for seminars
Guided Independent Study175Research, reading and viewing for sequence analysis and case study
Guided Independent Study33Study group meeting and seminar presentation preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group Seminar presentation on a selected star15 minutes1-6Oral and written if desired

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Star or Celebrity case study presented as either a written OR a videographic essay.755500 words OR 8-9 minutes AND 1,500 word critical reflection. 1-6Oral and written
Sequence analysis of star performance252000 words1-6Oral and written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Star or celebrity case-study as either written OR videographic essayStar or celebrity case study 1-6Deferral period
Sequence analysis of star performanceSequence analysis of star performance1-6Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

The following are indicative key texts:

  • Barron, Lee. Celebrity Cultures: An Introduction. SAGE, 2015.
  • Bolton, Lucy and Julia Labalzo Wright. Lasting Screen Stars. Palgrave, 2016.
  • Cobb, Shelley and Neil Ewen, eds. First Comes Love: Power Couples, Celebrity Kinship and Cultural Politics. Bloomsbury: 2015.
  • Dyer, Richard. Stars. BFI, 1979.
  • Dyer, Richard. Heavenly Bodies: Films Stars and Society. Routledge, 2003, 2nd edition.
  • Gledhill, Christine, ed. Stardom: Industry of Desire. Routledge, 1991.
  • Maguire, Emma. Girls, Autobiography, Media: Gender and Self-Mediation in Digital Economies. Palgrave, 2018.
  • Marcus, Sharon. The Drama of Celebrity. Princeton UP, 2019. Marshall, David P. Celebrity and Power: Fame in Contemporary Culture. Minnesota UP, 2014.
  • Marwick, Alice. Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity and Branding in the Social Media Age. Yale, 2013.
  • Moseley, Rachel.Fashioning Film Stars: Dress, Culture, Identity. BFI, 2005.
  • Naremore, James. Acting in the Cinema. University of California Press, 1988.
  • Phillips, Alistair and Ginette Vincendeau, eds. Journeys of Desire: European Actors in Hollywood. BFI, 2006.
  • Qiong Yu, Sabrina and Guy Austin, eds. Revisiting Star Studies. Edinburgh University Press, 2018.
  • Rojek, Chris. Celebrity. Reaktion, 2001.
  • Shingler, Martin. Star Studies: A Critical Guide. Bloomsbury, 2012.
  • Stacey, Jackie. Star-Gazing: Hollywood Cinema and Female Spectatorship. Routledge, 1994.
  • Turner, Graeme. Understanding Celebrity. SAGE, 2015, second edition.

Key words search

Stars, celebrities, stardom, spectatorship, celebrity

Credit value30
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


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