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Deakin University has a new research group looking at the role of persona in political and everyday life, the meaning and significance of celebrity culture, and the way the public is mobilised in the global age.
The Persona, Celebrity, Publics (PCP) research group is initially made up of around 25 Deakin academics involved in research on persona and celebrity, as well as the implications for a changed public sphere on online culture changes in our ratios of communication, participation and personal engagement.
“Our aims are to centrally look at the role of persona in political and everyday life, the meaning and significance of celebrity culture, and the way the public is mobilised in the global age,” said Professor David Marshall, who with Associate Professor Sean Redmond is Co-Chair of PCP.
“We see connections and discursive relays between these three areas, understanding contemporary life as being predicated on presentations, performances and representations of the self, the real, in a media rich world where famed individuals are highly regarded and carry economic worth," said Associate Professor Redmond.
“PCP is connected to the journal Celebrity Studies (edited by Associate Professor Sean Redmond), its bi-annual conference, and to similarly constituted research groups in North America, Asia, and Europe."
In addition to Deakin-based researchers, the new research group's members will eventually comprise academics from associated groups world-wide.
The PCP recently hosted a visit by Professor Graeme Turner from the University of Queensland as part of its Reading and Talking Out Loud Seminar Series.
Professor Turner is from UQ's Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies and is one of the leading figures in cultural and media studies in Australia and internationally.
He spoke on the complexities about writing the second edition of his landmark textbook on celebrity studies, Understanding Celebrity.
“I have explained celebrity as a number of things: as a discursive effect, as a commodity, as an industry, and maybe even as a form of social relations,” he writes in the second edition.
“I am ready, however, to accept that this may still not entirely explain the force of the celebrity-fan relation.
“Nor the wonderful final paragraph in Richard Dyer’s Stars where he reminds us that – for all his focus upon analysis and demystification – when he sees Marilyn Monroe he catches his breath.
“I want us to understand celebrity and I hope that this book will take us significantly further towards that objective, but it is important to keep such impulses in mind as among the reasons why we would want to do that, and why it will remain so difficult to achieve.”
Professor Marshall says there is still much to be investigated and understood about celebrity in regional, national and global terms.
As part of doing that, Associate Professor Redmond said the PCP was on the lookout for more members around the world.
“We welcome enquiries to join our research group from research students and post-doctoral students interested in studying and working here; and from those with projects and initiatives the group could be connected with,” he said.