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Courses / Modules / HIST2071 Celebrity, Media and Mass Culture, Britain 1888-1952

Celebrity, Media and Mass Culture, Britain 1888-1952

When you'll study it
Semester 1
CATS points
ECTS points
Level 5
Module lead
Eleanor Quince
Academic year

Module overview

This module explores the development of celebrity in Britain 1888-1952, focusing particularly upon the influence of technologies and mass media. The years between the late 1880s and early 1950s saw a massive expansion in printed and visual media, and this module charts representations of celebrity from the pages of illustrated newspapers (from the late 1880s) to modern technicolour film (1952), via turn-of-the-century developments in silent film, the 1920s invention of radio, and advances in photography. In studying this module you will have two main goals. Firstly, to gain an understanding of the chronology and personalities in the history of celebrity in late-nineteenth and early/mid-twentieth-century Britain, and the uses that celebrity was put to in endorsing political and social causes and consumer lifestyles. Secondly, to consider how the primary source materials you study not only document these individuals and historical moments, but also take on a key role in shaping celebrity. In each session on our module you will be introduced to a different genre of primary source, and will explore what light it sheds upon celebrity in our period. Sources to be studied include biographies; autobiographies; newspapers; magazines; photographs; paintings; letters; radio programmes and radio journalism; film; and material culture sources (for example, cigarette card collections and consumer goods). Our focus is on debates around celebrity in Britain, but we will also think closely about the argument for the ‘Americanisation’ of British popular culture across our time period in relation to the growing international reach of mass media.