The Idiom of a Modern Era
Edited with an Introductory Essay and Afterword by
Bärbel Czennia

LC 2013008607
ISBN-10: 0-404-64870-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-404-64870-1

AMS Studies in the Eighteenth Century, No. 70

Considerable attention in our own time is devoted to the cult of celebrity: to celebrating people who attain great fame and the cultural events and paraphernalia that surround them. While even sophisticated observers are tempted to regard celebrity as a phenomenon distinctly related to the twentieth and twenty-first century, it is by no means a recent invention. The nineteenth, eighteenth, and even seventeenth century also expended enormous energies in scrutinizing and analyzing the “celebrated” persons or events of their times. Indeed, the publicity apparatus that we associate with celebrity today can be seen as a natural outgrowth of the first experiments with mass media in the “early modern” and “modern” eras. This volume explores the genesis of and the variations on “celebrity” during the long eighteenth century, both in English-speaking cultures and in the broader western sphere of cultural influence.

The interdisciplinary and international character of the topic gives this volume unusually wide scope, touching on cultural history (including literary history, art history, and music history) as well as cultural studies, media studies, psychology, and even science and anthropology. The essays are organized into three sections according to their approach to the topic and preceded by a critical introduction that examines the general culture of celebrity in the period, provides a detailed research overview, and offers synopses of the individual contributions. The collection is rounded off by an afterword, nineteen black-and-white illustrations, and a general index.


Introductory Essay
Bärbel Czennia, “Toward an Interdisciplinary History of Celebrity”

I. Notorious, Curious, Eccentric: Celebrity and Eighteenth-Century Avant-Garde
Kevin L. Cope, “Local Rogue, ‘Miraculous Conformist,’ and Celebrity Charlatan: Valentine Greatrakes and the Emergence of Ordinary Modern Stardom”
Jessika Wichner, “The Famous Vincenzo Lunardi: Rise and Fall of an Eighteenth-Century Aviator”
Hans-Ulrich Mohr, “Horace Walpole: Six Dimensions of an Eighteenth-Century Celebrity”

II. All the World’s a Stage: Female Celebrities Outside and Beyond the Eighteenth-Century Theater
Berta Joncus and Vanessa L. Rogers, “‘United Voices Formed the Very Perfection of Harmony’: Music and the Invention of Harriett Abrams”
Waltraud Maierhofer, “‘Angelicamad’—Then and Now”
Megan Conway, “Olympe de Gouges: Eighteenth-Century Oprah or Madonna?”

III. Stars, Comets, Comas, and Tails: Male Celebrities in the Eighteenth-Century Literary Market and Their Academic Afterimages
Serge Soupel, “Sterne at Home (and) Abroad: An Assessment of a Perennial English Celebrity”
Katherine Arens, “Polydeuces in Weimar: Goethe’s Self-Fashioning”

IV. Exploring and Being Explored: Eighteenth-Century Celebrity and the Cultural Other
Sünne Juterczenka, “‘The Celebrated Captain Cook’—Or Was He? Contemporary Press Coverage of the Third Pacific Voyage (1776–80)”
Michelle Hetherington, “‘To make him Known agreably, without his becoming a Shew’: Joseph Banks, Omai, and the Cultivation and Management of Celebrity”
Bärbel Czennia, “Pawprints on the Sands of Time: Animal Celebrities in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture”
Bärbel Czennia, “Celebrity: A Final View”


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Celebrity : the idiom of a modern era / edited by Bärbel Czennia.
p. cm. — (AMS studies in the eighteenth century ; no. 70)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-404-64870-1 (cloth : alk. paper)
1. Fame—History—18th century.
2. Great Britain—Social life and customs—18th century.
I. Czennia, Bärbel, 1961–
DA485.C89 2013
305.5’2—dc23 2013008607

Category: Annuals