Sharon Marcus - "The Drama of Celebrity" - Deborah Cohen

Thursday, September 26, 2019 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Sharon Marcus

"A landmark book for the history of popular culture. Combining a rigorous analytical intelligence with deep, meticulous research into neglected sources such as fan scrapbooks, Marcus demonstrates how the nineteenth-century theater set the mold for celebrity culture today. A brilliant, transformative account of the way that celebrity works."—Deborah Cohen, author of Family Secrets: Shame and Privacy in Modern Britain

Sharon Marcus discusses The Drama of Celebrity. She will be joined in conversation by Deborah Cohen. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

At 57th Street Books

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested but not required.)

About the book: Why do so many people care so much about celebrities? Who decides who gets to be a star? What are the privileges and pleasures of fandom? Do celebrities ever deserve the outsized attention they receive? In this fascinating and deeply researched book, Sharon Marcus challenges everything you thought you knew about our obsession with fame. Icons are not merely famous for being famous; the media alone cannot make or break stars; fans are not simply passive dupes. Instead, journalists, the public, and celebrities themselves all compete, passionately and expertly, to shape the stories we tell about celebrities and fans. The result: a high-stakes drama as endless as it is unpredictable. Drawing on scrapbooks, personal diaries, and vintage fan mail, Marcus traces celebrity culture back to its nineteenth-century roots, when people the world over found themselves captivated by celebrity chefs, bad-boy poets, and actors such as the “divine” Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923), as famous in her day as the Beatles in theirs. Known in her youth for sleeping in a coffin, hailed in maturity as a woman of genius, Bernhardt became a global superstar thanks to savvy engagement with her era’s most innovative media and technologies: the popular press, commercial photography, and speedy new forms of travel. Whether you love celebrity culture or hate it, The Drama of Celebrity will change how you think about one of the most important phenomena of modern times.

About the author: Sharon Marcus is the Orlando Harriman Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is a founding editor of Public Books and the author of the award-winning Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England (Princeton) and Apartment Stories: City and Home in Nineteenth-Century Paris and London

About the interlocutor: Deborah Cohen is Professor of History and Peter B. Ritzma Professor of the Humanities at Northwestern. She's written books on veterans after the First World War (The War Come Home), British consumerism (Household Gods) and on secrecy, privacy and families (Family Secrets). She writes regularly for The Atlantic and has published reviews in the New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books and the Wall Street Journal as well as serving as a section editor for Public Books. She is currently at work on a book, under contract to Random House in the US and William Collins in the UK, about a set of American foreign correspondents who reported from interwar Europe and Asia. Her subjects include John and Frances Gunther, H.R. Knickerbocker, Vincent Sheean, and Dorothy Thompson.

Event Location: 
57th Street Books
1301 E. 57th St.
Chicago, IL 60637