3rd Global Conference: The Dark Side of Celebrity

full name / name of organization: 
Dr Rob Fisher, Inter-disciplinary.Net

3rd Global Conference
The Dark Side of Celebrity

Monday 21st July – Wednesday 23rd July 2014
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Presentations:

This call for presentations is a special stream within the larger Celebrity conference and asks for proposals and performances to addresses a serious, interdisciplinary and multicultural analysis of the phenomenon of celebrity and death, or the dark sides of stardom.

Richard Dyer, in his Stars as Images, states that "[s]tardom is an image of the way stars live," (154) but what happens with the value of the celebrated individual when they die? Does it increase or diminish? Does the way of passing away affect how we keep or stop celebrating particular people? How strong is the myth they have become, and who benefits from the death of a celebrity? Does fame guarantee immortality? Is death just a beginning?

These questions are nowadays more valid than before. The world has recently lost quite a few celebrities – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Walker, Cory Monteith, Nelson Mandela, Shirley Temple, Peter O'Toole – and their deaths are analysed in many public and private discourses, not only among the grieving fans. The way celebrities are remembered depends not only on the way they lived and how they affected the world, but also the way they died and at what particular moment in their lives. The passing of Mandela, Temple or O'Toole signifies the end of an era and initiates nostalgic or revisionist discussions on the past. Sudden deaths of the 'younger' celebrities, however, are rarely seen in terms of a closure.

Conspiracy theories, for instance, arise. This, of course, is not a new phenomenon in the 'celebworld' – think of the deaths of Bruce Lee, President Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Princess Diana, and Michael Jackson. Investigations concerning their deaths seem to prolong their stardom, give it a new shape, and, despite the disappearance of the celebrated individual, they 'live,' for instance, in the films they haven't finished, as they are often resurrected by CGI or change in the script. They exist in gossip; in personal stories of friends and fans; and in commemorative merchandise, such as biographical accounts, biopics, etc. After death, their lives are once again 'dissected' by scholars, and become a springboard for discussions on the darker side of celebrity. Their demise is announced as a warning for other celebrities, although this call is heard more by researchers of celebrity culture, sociologists and psychologists than the stars themselves. The media, after all, find enough room for both criticising the contemporary culture of 'celebritydom' and the juicy reports on the dangerous, if not life-threatening, shenanigans of the younger generations of celebrities. Once can ask, then, is playing with death part of celebrityhood? Have lessons on the dangers of celebrity not been learnt?

We encourage both an in-depth criticism of the state of contemporary culture as well as a legitimate recognition of celebrities' and fans' cultural value in the context of the lives and deaths of stars. Scholars, artists, writers, media representatives, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and medical and law specialists are invited to send papers, reports, research studies, work-in-progress, works of art, and workshop proposals on issues related but not limited to the following themes:

-Definitions of celebrity-hood, stardom, fame, iconicity, charisma, uniqueness/singularity, mass culture/pop-culture, popularity
-The dangers of celebrity
-The value of death of the 'celebrated' individuals
-Celebrity status as a burden, or the weight of stardom
-Celebrity and addictions: is it part and parcel of contemporary celebrity culture? Has it been in the past?
-Commemorative rituals and practises pertaining to dead celebrities across the world
-'Consuming' celebrities and their deaths in the past, present and predictions for the future
-Posthumus celebrity image management and industry
-Immortality of celebrities
-Conspiracy theories and their value in prolonging fame
-Celebrities and murder
-The response of fan communities, the press and social media to the deaths of their idols
-Memorabilia and tours (Graceland, Neverland Ranch, etc.)
-Notorious celebrity/fame: The anti-heroes and anti-stars
-Ethics of fame

The Steering Group particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals.

In order to support and encourage interdisciplinarity engagement, it is our intention to create the possibility of starting dialogues between the parallel events running during this conference. Delegates are welcome to attend up to two sessions in each of the concurrent conferences. We also propose to produce cross-over sessions between these groups – and we welcome proposals which deal with the relationship between Celebrity and Whiteness.

What to Send:
Proposals will also be considered on any related theme. 300 word proposals should be submitted by Friday 11th April 2014. If a proposal is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper of no more than 3000 words should be submitted by Friday 16th May 2014. Proposals should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: Celebrity3 Proposal Submission.

Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs:
Katarzyna Bronk: kmb@inter-disciplinary.net
Dr Rob Fisher: celeb3@inter-disciplinary.net

The conference is part of the Critical Issues series of research projects. The aim of the conference is to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting.All proposals accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected proposals may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.

Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation.

For further details of the conference, please visit:

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.