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Self-Exposure: Human-Interest Journalism and the Emergence of Celebrity in America, 1890-1940

Overview

Few features of contemporary American culture are as widely lamented as the public's obsession with celebrity--and the trivializing effect this obsession has on what appears as news. Nevertheless, America's "culture of celebrity" remains misunderstood, particularly when critics discuss its historical roots.

In this pathbreaking book, Charles Ponce de Leon provides a new interpretation of the emergence of celebrity. Focusing on the development of human-interest journalism about ...

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Self-Exposure: Human-Interest Journalism and the Emergence of Celebrity in America, 1890-1940

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Overview

Few features of contemporary American culture are as widely lamented as the public's obsession with celebrity--and the trivializing effect this obsession has on what appears as news. Nevertheless, America's "culture of celebrity" remains misunderstood, particularly when critics discuss its historical roots.

In this pathbreaking book, Charles Ponce de Leon provides a new interpretation of the emergence of celebrity. Focusing on the development of human-interest journalism about prominent public figures, he illuminates the ways in which new forms of press coverage gradually undermined the belief that famous people were "great," instead encouraging the public to regard them as complex, interesting, even flawed individuals and offering readers seemingly intimate glimpses of the "real" selves that were presumed to lie behind the calculated, self-promotional fronts that celebrities displayed in public. But human-interest journalism about celebrities did more than simply offer celebrities a new means of gaining publicity or provide readers with the "inside dope," says Ponce de Leon. In chapters devoted to celebrities from the realms of business, politics, entertainment, and sports, he shows how authors of celebrity journalism used their writings to weigh in on subjects as wide-ranging as social class, race relations, gender roles, democracy, political reform, self-expression, material success, competition, and the work ethic, offering the public a new lens through which to view these issues.

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Editorial Reviews

Daniel Horowitz
Fills an important gap in historical scholarship, providing the first sustained consideration of how the notion of celebrity status emerged from the late nineteenth century until the mid-twentieth. (Daniel Horowitz, author of Betty Friedan and the Making of The Feminine Mystique)
From the Publisher
A fascinating contribution to one of the most important developments of modern America. One has only to think for a moment about contemporary culture to wish to know where our obsessions with celebrity come from and, more profoundly, what impact celebrating celebrity has had on our civilization. (James B. Gilbert, University of Maryland at College Park)

Fills an important gap in historical scholarship, providing the first sustained consideration of how the notion of celebrity status emerged from the late nineteenth century until the mid-twentieth. (Daniel Horowitz, author of Betty Friedan and the Making of The Feminine Mystique)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807854037
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2002
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles L. Ponce de Leon is associate professor of history at Purchase College, State University of New York.
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments Introduction
1. Becoming Visible: Fame and Celebrity in the Modern Age
2. The Rise of Celebrity Journalism
3. Exposure or Publicity?: The Paradox of Celebrity Journalism
4. True Success: The Master Plot of Celebrity Journalism
5. From Parasites to Public Servants: The Rehabilitation of the Rich
6. Practical Idealism: Political Celebrity in an Age of Reform
7. There's No Business Like Show Business: Celebrity and the Popular Culture Industries
8. Heroes and Pretenders: Athletic Celebrity and the Commercialization of Sports Epilogue Notes

Index

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