Living Life in Public: Exploring the Private Lives of Celebrities / The Celebrity Project
Tuesday 28th July – Thursday 30th July 2015
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom
Call for Presentations:
Celebrities are “well-known” individuals who either by choice or by chance have achieved renown or infamy outside of personal and professional circles. Despite complaints that celebrities routinely make of the inconveniences of fame, many devote considerable resources to retaining and increasing their visibility, and to crafting their public images. Despite the very public nature of the celebrity, what drives much mass interest in these rarefied individuals is very often their private lives. Personal scandals can wreck (or in some cases, even propel) celebrity success, and avoiding, managing and atoning for scandal consists of a large part of maintaining a career in public.
Many celebrities are also astute in utilizing private life events such as weddings and childbirth and personal struggles with failure, addiction and romantic disappointment to make their public images more compelling.
The sector of media devoted to covering celebrities’ private lives is a gigantic one, with “candid” photographs of Britney Spears, David Beckham or Justin Bieber fetching huge sums. The romantic lives of well-known star couples, like Kanye West and Kim Kardashian (“Kimye”), Ellen DeGeneres and Portia Rossi, and on and off-screen lovers Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame receive ink rivaling their creative outputs. Sport figures like Lance Armstrong and Oscar Pistorius who reap the benefits of their compelling personal stories must also face the abyss of doping scandals and murder charges. The explosion of reality television has introduced a new wrinkle as participants in internationally syndicated shows like The Bachelor, Real Housewives and Big Brother gain tabloid space not for achievements in sports, politics and the arts but for the ways in which they perform versions of their own romantic, domestic and professional lives. Exposing one’s private life appears to be trumping public achievement as a means for achieving renown.
This, of course, is not just a Western phenomenon, and well known figures from Asian and African music and cinema equally utilize performances of their private lives to inform their public personas.
Why this obsession with celebrities’ private lives? This question offers a ripe opportunity to investigate the cultural, historical and philosophical categories of public, private, and of celebrity itself.
Scholars, artists, fans, writers, lawyers, media professionals, performers, even celebrities are invited to send papers, reports, personal narratives, research studies, works-in-progress, works of art, and workshop proposals on issues related but not limited to the following themes, as they may manifest themselves in multiple historical and geographic locations:
– Paparazzi and the celebrity press, gossip, lifestyle, home shows, articles, and websites
– Celebrity bodies, plastic surgery, weight gain or loss, death and dying
– Celebrity self-commodification of personal lives: romance, tragedy, hardships, addictions, comebacks, pregnancies, etc.
– Scandal, crisis management, public shaming and remorse, redemption and penance campaigns
– Race and gender representation and celebrity, realness, whiteness, celebrities of colour and mixed race, masculinity and femininity, affirmative action and tokenism, celebrities and disability
– LGBT celebrities, coming out, outing and closeting, gay rumours and innuendo, gay marriage, gender transitions, homophobia and its career impact
– Personal life and image management, sham or hidden relationships and marriages, synergistic relationships (Brangelina, Bennifer, Kimye)
– Reality stars and reality television, YouTube celebrities, talent competitions, beauty contests, internet memes based on traditional and internet celebrities
– Royalty as celebrity, succession crises, royal scandals, pregnancies, ceremony and ritual, republican critics of royalty.
– Celebrity athletes, personal narratives, inspirational stories, scandals, sportsmanship, club affiliations, on-field and locker room interviews
– Celebrity and the law: celebrity crime, paternity suits, libel suits, invasion of privacy, etc.
– Private life as a source of artistic inspiration and validation for celebrities
– Celebrity autobiographies, self-help books, addiction narratives, and exposees.
– Personal narratives, confessional poetry, lyrics and prose, self-exposure as a creative trope
– Hip Hop personas and personal narratives, boasting and fronting, players vs. haters, realness, hypermasculinity, race, gender and linguistic diversity
– “Method” acting, bodily modification, use of private emotion, spontaneity in performance
– Religion and celebrity, public and private expressions of faith, personal and professional religiosity, celebrities with non-mainstream or New Age faiths
– Celebrities and politics, public endorsements, private support, reaction to social controversies
– Children of celebrities, child celebrities, and celebrity dynasties
– Fandom, collecting autographs and memorabilia, relationships between fans and celebrities real or imagined, erotic fiction featuring celebrities, cosplay, memorials and tributes
– Conventions, tours, personal appearances, award shows, red carpets, acceptance speeches.
– Celebrity biopics, accuracy vs. dramatic license in depictions of private lives, performing celebrity, casting and mimicry, celebrity impersonators, celebrity parodies
– Celebrities and social media, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter followers, posts, and mishaps
The Steering Group welcomes the submission of proposals for short workshops, practitioner-based activities, performances, and pre-formed panels. We particularly welcome short film screenings; photographic essays; installations; interactive talks and alternative presentation styles that encourage engagement.
What to Send:
Proposals will also be considered on any related theme. 300 word proposals should be submitted by Friday 1st May 2015. If a proposal is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper of no more than 3000 words should be submitted by Friday 19th June 2015. Proposals should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word or RTF formats with the following information and in this
a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: Celebrity4 Proposal Submission.
Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.
Jon Torn: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Fisher: email@example.com
The conference is part of the Critical Issues series of research projects. The aim of the conference is to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting.All proposals accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected proposals may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.
Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation.
For further details of the conference, please visit:
Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.
Jon Leon Torn, PhD
School of Communication
Northern Arizona University
PO Box 5619
Flagstaff AZ 86011