Victorian Literature and Culture
Sharon Marcus, Columbia University

The Drama of Celebrity: Imitation

Abstract

Celebrities often present themselves as iconic types available for imitation. Most scholars of celebrity have taken a dim view of fans who imitate stars, seeing their actions as exemplifying the mindlessness and exploitation of commodity culture. This talk counters that thesis. Using nineteenth-century representations of Sarah Bernhardt, Oscar Wilde, and their fans, I argue that celebrity imitation was a privilege that members of dominant groups often sought to deny those in subordinate ones.