Stars and Celebrity Culture - FI634

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Spring 6 30 (15) MS F Kamm checkmark-circle


This module examines the concepts of stardom and celebrity. Often used as synonyms, the two terms in fact relate to different types of media constructs. The module will consider the history of the rise of stardom within the Hollywood context, exploring how the establishment of 'the star' became an integral part of the industry. Students will examine the ‘star system’ and its relationship to a range of topics which may include: performance; genre; the representation of gender and gendered bodies; audiences and fan studies; stars within dominant cultures and subcultural groups; and acting as labour. The topic will be illuminated through the analysis of key theoretical texts – many of which laid the foundations for star studies within film, media and cultural studies – as well as via opportunities for students to explore primary sources, such as movie magazines. The module also traces how the stardom industry described above became a component within a larger network of celebrity culture. Often characterised as a more contemporary phenomenon, the notion of ‘celebrity’ incorporates prominent figures in the public eye to whom the extension of fame is not necessarily based on any specific skill, talent or achievement. The module explores this context in conjunction with the apparent decline of the dominance of Hollywood stars, as a variety of mediated identities are promoted, consumed and commodified within diverse media landscapes. Using scholarship from within the interdisciplinary field of celebrity studies, students analyse how celebrities can take on many forms including actors, TV personalities and influencers, using different media platforms such as film, television, online streaming and social media. The importance of media technologies within both the study of stars and celebrity culture is stressed throughout the course.


This module appears in the following module collections.

Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 45
Independent learning hours: 255
Total number of study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Essay (40%)
Digital portfolio (60%)

Indicative reading

deCordova, Richard. 2001. Picture Personalities: The emergence of the star system in America. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
Dyer, Richard. 1976. Stars. London: BFI Publishing.
McDonald, Paul. 2014. Hollywood Stardom. Chichester: Wiley.
Schickel, Richard. 1985. Intimate Strangers: The culture of celebrity in America. New York: Ivan R.Dee Publishers.
Selected issues of Celebrity Studies. Routledge.
Turner, Graeme. 2004. Understanding Celebrity. London: Sage.
Williamson, Milly. 2016. Celebrity: Capitalism and the Making of Fame. Chichester: Wiley.

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
- Demonstrate understanding of the key concepts in approaches to stardom and celebrity
- Evaluate critically the specific historical contexts that led to the emergence of movie stardom
- Analyse the critical and historical differences between stardom and celebrity
- Analyse the roles played by a variety of stakeholders in the construction of stardom and celebrity: fans, audiences, performers, employers, and the media
- Display comprehension of the relationship between the star and the celebrity, and relate these to their political, social, historical and geographic contexts
- Understand the role of technology in the creation, dissemination and mediation of the star and celebrity image


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
Back to top

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.