The historian Daniel Boorstin famously defined a celebrity as "a person who is well-known for his well-knownness."
A person who is famous for simply being famous is hardly a modern phenomenon. On the publication of Childe Harold, Byron declared that he went to bed and woke up famous. However, Byron was a poet and subsequent celebrities generally had proven talent as well as the knack of achieving an exalted social status based on fame alone - or even notoriety.
While the modern celebrity may possess a talent, that is no longer the sine qua non of achieving celebrity status. Increasingly that status would seem to be dependent on, and indeed to a great extent, manufactured, by the mass media.
This lecture will explore the nature of contemporary celebrity, how it is 'manufactured' by the media and what has been called the 'celebrification' of our culture.
Named for Sir Thomas Gresham, Gresham College was founded in 1597 and is currently located at Barnard's Inn Hall in central London. Since then, Gresham's professors have provided free public lectures to residents of London. These lectures teach on the subjects of the seven original professorships--Astronomy, Divinity, Mathematics, Law, Music, Medicine, Rhetoric--as well as Commerce, which was added in 1985. In addition to the professorships, the College also hosts frequent seminars and conferences.