Online course

Gender and Celebrity Culture: Global Media, Everyday Lives

How do celebrities affect our identity? Find out with an introduction to intersectional studies of gender and celebrity.

Gender and Celebrity Culture: Global Media, Everyday Lives

Understand more about gender, media and society by exploring celebrity culture

What makes a celebrity? Why are celebrities significant? How do celebrities connect to our construction of ourselves as gendered beings? Is ‘celebrity feminism’ good for gender equality? These are just some of the questions you’ll be answering on this course.

Using celebrity case studies you will explore questions of media production, identity, visibility, activism and social and cultural change. You will also learn how feminist research has used celebrity culture to make sense of gendered, racial, classed and sexual identities.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsWe are constantly exposed to images of stardom and celebrity. Stars define what it means to be successful, what counts as beautiful, what kinds of bodies are socially acceptable. They are central to the way we think about social mobility, aspiration, inclusion, and belonging.

Skip to 0 minutes and 32 secondsThe saturation of celebrity images can be a source of pleasure, but also anxiety. Celebrity is powerful, yet it's often seen as quite frivolous, quite trivial. This course asks, what if we were to take celebrity seriously? What would that tell us about contemporary culture and social life? This course draws on our work in the Centre for Gender and Women's Studies at Lancaster University. It will introduce you to pioneering work by national and international scholars from across the social sciences and humanities to explore the relationship between media, gender, and identity. So we consider questions like, does celebrity culture have a damaging social impact? How effective are the new generation of celebrity feminists in fighting for gender equality?

Skip to 1 minute and 28 secondsHow is celebrity seen as role models for better or for worse? What moral panics are there about celebrity culture, and how might they reinforce quite conservative values? We'll explore these questions through themes that relate to different facets of contemporary media. We'll ask how an institution like the monarchy has used popular media to rebrand, creating a new kind of media star in figures like Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge. We'll consider how icons like David Bowie and Prince changed the way we think about masculinity. We'll see what happens when a celebrity dies, and what that might tell us about the emotional attachments we often have to these public figures.

Skip to 2 minutes and 16 secondsAnd with a new generation of stars like Laverne Cox and Emma Watson identifying as feminists, we'll consider whether celebrity media might provide a platform for social change. You'll learn about key developments in media studies, and feminist scholarship, activism, and popular debate. The course takes a social and interactive approach to learning. You will be encouraged to reflect critically on your own experience of celebrity culture. We invite you to join our active community of researchers as we work together to try and understand this complex, fascinating phenomenon.

What topics will you cover?

  • Introduction to gender and media theory
  • Gender, celebrity and the gaze
  • Celebrity, Youth and Aspiration
  • Celebrity and the family
  • Celebrity, Death and Mourning
  • Masculinity in the media
  • Celebrity feminists and celebrity activism

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced
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What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Apply basic media theory to a range of media texts
  • Demonstrate an understanding of key concepts in feminist media and cultural studies
  • Engage with current scholarship in celebrity studies
  • Reflect on your own relationship with popular media
  • Discuss the relationship between media, gender and other aspects of identity
  • Explore a range of media platforms and artefacts to make sense of celebrity culture

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone interested in gender and celebrity culture, you don’t need any previous experience.

Who will you learn with?

Debra Ferreday

I am a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Lancaster University, and Co-Director of the Institute for Gender and Women's Studies. I write and teach on gender studies, film, media and popular culture.

Who developed the course?

Lancaster University is a collegiate university, with a global reputation as a centre for research, scholarship and teaching with an emphasis on employability.

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