In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Stardom

  • Introduction
  • Anthologies
  • Journals
  • Theorizing Stardom
  • Silent Stardom
  • Stardom and Genre
  • Stardom and Nationhood
  • Transnational Stardom
  • Celebrity Studies

Related Articles Expand or collapse the "related articles" sectionabout

Forthcoming Articles Expand or collapse the "forthcoming articles" section


Cinema and Media Studies Stardom
Maria Elena D'Amelio
  • LAST REVIEWED: 23 March 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 March 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0060


Although fascination with the film star dates back as far as Béla Balázs’s The Visible Man (1924), the study of stars and stardom did not become a commonplace of film studies until the 1980s. The discipline that first approached the mechanics of contemporary celebrity was sociology, which produced some important works in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Barthes’ The Face of Garbo (1972), Morin, The Stars (2005) (both cited under Theorizing Stardom), and Alberoni’s The Powerless Elite (1963) were among the first works to address stardom’s cultural and ideological implications from, respectively, semiotic, philosophical, and sociological standpoints. These three books were all published in the late 1950s and early 1960s, a time when celebrity culture was increasingly visible. These studies set the stage for an exploration of stardom, culture, and ideology that culminated with the publication of the influential work Dyer, Stars (1998) (cited under Theorizing Stardom). The author introduced the idea of the “star text,” a concept that stretched beyond an artist’s performances in films to include fan magazine articles, advertising posters, personal biographies, and rumors about actors, all of which contribute to the experience of modern celebrity. Since then, “stardom” has encompassed numerous issues in academic film studies, including the star as historical entity; the star as discursive formation and cultural commodity; the role of audience and fandom in the construction of the star; and the star as the intersection of cinematic language and technique with larger historical dynamics, such as gender, sexuality, youth, politics, and fashion.


Of the several anthologies on stardom theory, Gledhill 1991 is the first significant survey. Ndalianis and Henry 2002 is a collection of essays on contemporary stars, and Austin and Barker 2003 explores contemporary Hollywood stardom. Fischer and Landy 2004 investigates the star canon and addresses neglected areas of star studies. Marshall 2006 includes a number of essays to introduce the field of celebrity study, while Redmond and Holmes 2007 combines new essays with canonical theoretical writings.

  • Austin, Thomas, and Martin Barker, eds. Contemporary Hollywood Stardom. London: Arnold, 2003.

    Explores stardom from different points of view: questions of performance, the effect on stardom of convergence between the film industry and other leisure industries, and the role of audiences. Would work for beginning and advanced undergraduates.

  • Fischer, Lucy, and Marcia Landy, eds. Stars: The Film Reader. New York: Routledge, 2004.

    Brings together key writings and new perspectives on stars and stardom in cinema and television, examining neglected areas of study such as the avant-garde star, the non-American star, and questions of canon and ethnicity. Appropriate for graduates and advanced undergraduate classes.

  • Gledhill, Christine, ed. Stardom: Industry of Desire. New York: Routledge, 1991.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203400425

    A collection of essays that represent a range of approaches drawn from film history, sociology, textual analysis, audience research, psychoanalysis, and cultural politics. They raise important issues about the role of stars in the production, circulation, and negotiation of meanings, identities, desires, and ideologies. Suitable for graduates and advanced undergraduates.

  • Marshall, P. David, ed. The Celebrity Culture Reader. New York: Routledge, 2006.

    Combines classic essays and contemporary writings on the new celebrity culture that emerged from reality television and the Internet. Accessible to beginning undergraduates, but best for more advanced students.

  • Ndalianis, Angela, and Charlotte Henry. Stars in Our Eyes: The Star Phenomenon in the Contemporary Era. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002.

    Collection of essays on contemporary stars, divided in three parts: individual case studies; the cultural impact of star images; and directors and characters as stars. Chapter 9 focuses on digital stars. Suitable for graduate students.

  • Redmond, Sean, and Su Holmes, eds. Stardom and Celebrity: A Reader. London: SAGE, 2007.

    As much an anthology as a textbook; the editors have collected many of the most important intellectual arguments on which star and celebrity analysis is based. Aimed at graduates and advanced undergraduates.

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