Constructing and Defining the Cult Film Star: The Cult of Personality (Proposals due January 29th 2010)

full name / name of organization: 
Kate Egan / Sarah Thomas, Aberystwyth University, UK

Proposals are invited for contributions to an edited collection on cult film stars. The term 'cult film star' has been employed, and used as a common-sense term, in publicity and popular journalistic writing for at least the last twenty-five years (for instance, in Danny Peary's 1991 reference book, Cult Movie Stars). However, what makes cult film stars or actors distinct or different from other film stars has rarely been addressed, with the cult star label often being attributed to particular stars or actors in a rather arbitrary or random way.

This edited collection aims to contribute to two key areas of debate and enquiry within film studies - star studies and cult film studies - by bringing together contributions focused on case studies of particular film stars/actors who have been considered to have a particular 'cult' appeal (whether actors or stars associated with Hollywood filmmaking, independent filmmaking or cinemas beyond Hollywood). The question that should unite all contributions to the book is: what are the industrial, performance-related, formal/aesthetic, cultural or discursive processes that inform the naming of particular film actors as 'cult actors' or 'cult stars'? Consequently, we are happy to receive contributions that employ methods associated with: textual analysis, analysis of star performance, star labour, historical reception studies and/or audience research.

Questions that could be addressed in contributions may include, but are not limited to:

1. What role do particular stars or actors play in films that have been designated as cult? How do particular stars or actors relate to qualities that have been identified as important to many cult films, such as generic hybridity, self-consciousness, reflexivity, and excessiveness?
2. How are cult stars constructed and defined as alternative examples of stardom? Is the status of particular stars/actors as 'cult' related to their marginal status as 'other' or with other associations of 'difference' (for example, in relation to employment, race, nationality, sexuality)?
3. How does the status of particular stars/actors as 'cult' relate to issues of cultural capital or tie-ins (for example, the advertising of particular kinds of products)?
4. How are particular stars/actors employed in films to signify difference or off-beatness or other such qualities (for example, through cameos or supporting roles)?
5. Does the status of particular stars/actors as 'cult' relate to their association with particular genres or modes of filmmaking (for example, horror, art cinema or independent American cinema)?
6. Do cult stars or actors employ particular performance styles that set them apart from more conventional performances, such as self-conscious, non-naturalistic or overplayed styles?
7. Are certain cult stars or actors designated as such because of the cult status of a character they have played?
8. Does the designation of particular stars/actors as 'cult stars' occur retrospectively (i.e. after their death, or through the rediscovery of particular stars via film festivals, the internet or DVD re-releases)?
9. Is there an alternative star system associated with, for instance, straight to DVD releases or films distributed via the internet?
10. Is the status of someone as a cult star or actor related to his/her associations with other mediums outside of the cinema (for example, radio or the music industry)?

Please send proposals (of between 300-350 words) to Dr Kate Egan ( and Dr Sarah Thomas ( by Friday 29th January 2010.