This book examines the relationship between life writing and celebrity in English-language and comparative literary and cultural contexts, focusing on historical as well as contemporary auto/biographical subjects.
With contributions on the 18th-century actress Peg Woffington, Charles Dickens, Mary Pickford, Sergei Eisenstein, W.H. Auden, Marilyn Monroe, and Michael Jackson, amongst others, the book encompasses a wide range of disciplines and approaches. It explores the representation of famous lives in genres as varied as TV documentary, biopic, biofiction, journalism, (authorized) biography, and painting. The contributors address broad themes including authenticity, self-fashioning, identity politics, and ethics; and reflect on the ways in which these affect the reading and writing of celebrity lives.
This volume is the first to bring together life writing and celebrity studies—two vibrant and innovative areas of research which are closely connected through their shared concerns with authenticity and intimacy, public and private selves, myth-making and revelation. As such it will be of interest to a wide range of scholars from across the humanities. This book was originally published as a special issue of Life Writing.
Table of Contents
Introduction – Life Writing and Celebrity: Exploring Intersections
Sandra Mayer and Julia Novak
1. An Austrian Auden: A Media Construction Story
2. Sergei Eisenstein as Seen by Peter Greenaway: A Dialectic Representation of an (Anti-)Great Film Director
3. Fictionalisation in Biography: Creating the Dickens Myth
4. Visual Art as Celebrity Memoir: The Paradox of Peg Woffington’s Sick-bed Portrait
5. Writing Celebrity as Disability: Las Meninas, Performing Dwarfs, and Michael Jackson Fan Day
Eva Sage Gordon
6. ‘Boswellized From Mere Persons to Personages’: Arthur Stringer, Mary Pickford, and the Trouble with Celebrity Profile(r)s
7. ‘Watergate-ing’ Norman Mailer’s Marilyn: Life Writing in Cultural Context
8. Pacts, Paratext, and Polyphony: Writing the Authorised Biography of Robert Wyatt
Sandra Mayer is a Research Fellow in English Literature at the University of Vienna, Austria, and the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing, UK. She has published widely on authorship and literary celebrity, (co)editing special issues on the theme for Celebrity Studies, Forum for Modern Language Studies, and Persona Studies.
Julia Novak is a Research Fellow at the Department of English at the University of Vienna, Austria. She has published extensively on poetry performance and biographical fiction, including the collection Experiments in Life Writing (2017). She is an editor of the European Journal of Life Writing.