full name / name of organization: 
Anne Helen Petersen / University of Texas


Plainly put: without gossip, there would be no celebrities. Indeed, what we say and read about stars and celebrities constitutes their images just as much, if not more, than any film role, television appearance, or commercial endorsement. Long dismissed as the shrill, smutty stepchild of Hollywood, the phenomenal success of Perez Hilton and TMZ reminds us that gossip remains as profitable and pertinent as during its 'golden age' spanning the 1930s-40s. This panel thus aims to explore celebrity gossip in its myriad forms: as an industry, a form of media, and a means of identity formation. It will thus pay specific attention to the ways in which gossip not only forms a crucial node in the production of popular entities, but influences and organizes the ways in which those figures are received in both the domestic and international sphere.

This panel hopes to additionally address how participation in the consumption and proliferation of gossip serves as a form of identity formation; how, for example, discussing a celebrity's sexual proclivities or parenting choices offers a way of working through that celebrity's embodiment of or challenge to the status quo. In this way, celebrity gossip provides the figurative paperwork for declarations of media citizenship, as readers engage analog and digital tools to 'gossip back,' forming real and imaginary communities around the figures whose images and lifestyles provide means of making meaning of their own.

Submissions may address (but are in no way limited to):
*The cultural and industrial history of celebrity gossip: the 'gossip mavens' Louella Parsons, Hedda Hopper, Walter Winchell, Mike Connolly, Rona Barrett, etc.
*Gossip's shift in focus from Hollywood stars to celebrity writ large in the 1950s-1960s, with increasing attention to Jackie Kennedy, television personalities, Elvis, etc.
*The role of gossip in the proliferation and negotiation of scandal
Gossip's mode of address and 'ideal readers' -- and the relation to race, gender, sexuality, nationality.
*The aesthetics of gossip; gossip as camp
*Specific gossip publications, such as Photoplay, Confidential, daily gossip columns, radio broadcasts, magazines, tabloids, television programs, gossip blogs
*Gossip's relation to feminism and/or postfeminism
*Gossip's role and placement within Conglomerate Hollywood
Contemporary gossip personalities (Perez Hilton, Lainey Gossip, The Fug Girls)
*New Media Gossip -- interactivity, comments sections, convergence.
*Gossip's role in the reception of specific celebrity images, e.g. Mel Gibson, Tiger Woods
*How, and why, we should archive celebrity gossip -- and the difficulty of accessing historical gossip materials

Please email abstracts of 250-300 words and a brief bio (Name, Affiliation, Position) by August 10th, 2010 to:

Anne Helen Petersen
University of Texas-Austin, Department of Radio-Television-Film