When and how did celebrity come about? What can its emergence tell us about Europe’s cultural dynamics on the threshold of „modernity“? In the initial sessions of this course, we will explore some of the most vibrant debates in early modern history: Debates about culture consumption, about sociability and urban entertainment, and about the „public“ and the „private“ sphere. Students will then research and present a series of case studies which we will discuss in the light of these debates. Examples of such cases could be a scandalized monarch like Queen Marie-Antoinette, a lionized scholar like Joseph Banks, celebrated intellectuals like Voltaire and Rousseau, an actor, playwright, and theatre manager like David Garrick... or even Clara, the rhinoceros, who went on a tour of Europe and had her portrait painted in Paris.
All set texts and discussions in this course will be in English. Regular and active attendance will include the presentation of an 'expert' topic.
Literature: Jeremy D. Popkin, Bernadette Fort (eds), The Mémoires Secrets and the Culture of Publicity in Eighteenth-Century France, Voltaire Foundation, 1998; David P. Marshall (ed.), The Celebrity Culture Reader, New York 2010; Bärbel Czennia (ed.), Celebrity: The Idiom of a Modern Era, New York 2013; Antoine Lilti, Figures publiques. L’invention de la célébrité, 1750-1850, Paris 2014.