Sharon Marcus in conversation with Jonathan Grossman

June 18, 2019 @ 7:00 pm
Chevalier's Books, 126 N Larchmont Blvd
Los Angeles
CA 90004 US
323 - 465 - 1334

in conversation with  JONATHAN GROSSMAN

Why do so many people care so much about celebrities? 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.

Sharon Marcus is a founding editor of Public Books and the Orlando Harriman Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is 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.

Jonathan Grossman is at work on a book about the history and theory of standardization. His last book, Charles Dickens’s Networks: Public Transport and the Novel, analyzed the rise of public transport, the standardization of time and space, and the novel. A long term interest in the relation of community to systems and networks lies behind both projects. Grossman received the UCLA Senate Distinguished Teaching Award in 2014.