Transdisciplinary Studies

Star Course

Nineteenth-Century Lecture Tours and the Consolidation of Modern Celebrity

Authors: Cherches, Peter

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  • Other studies have dealt with the early Lyceum movement (most famously associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson) or with the later (early 20th century) Chautauqua movement, but not the commercialized “star courses” of the Gilded Age, which were more oriented toward popular entertainment than education; this book rescues a lost chapter of American performance history from obscurity.
  • The book is based on voluminous primary source archival research and contemporaneous newspaper reports.
  • The book provides a new look at the mechanisms of modern celebrity formation through a case study of a particular institution viewed through the lenses of media theory and cultural history.
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eBook 37,45 €
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  • ISBN 978-94-6351-203-9
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
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About this book

In the quarter century following the Civil War, “star courses” brought people famous for diverse pursuits before American audiences as lecturers, transforming what had been a largely educational institution into a major form of mainstream popular entertainment. No longer reliant on a rhetoric of uplift that had characterized the more sedate antebellum American lyceum movement exemplified by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Gilded-Age lecture series presented a wider range of individuals—writers, humorists, preachers, actors, scientists, and political activists—to an American public yearning to see and hear the famous and the infamous of all stripes in the flesh. Borrowing the word “star” from the theater, these national lecture tours helped to solidify an already evolving notion of celebrity through emerging public relations techniques and an expanding transportation network that transformed the lecture platform into a pre-electronic form of mass media, prefiguring much of the content of television and radio. Among the lecturers discussed are Mark Twain, the superstar cleric Henry Ward Beecher, cartoonist Thomas Nast, and African explorer Henry Morton Stanley, as well as the 19th wife of Brigham Young. Based on extensive archival research and newspaper accounts of the time, Star Course recaptures a lost chapter in American popular performance history. “In the century before television brought stars into our living rooms, celebrities crisscrossed the nation, bringing entertainment and perspectives to towns large and small. Peter Cherches, through his careful research and engaging prose, brings the stars and impresarios of the nineteenth-century lecture circuit back from the dead and gives us a front-row seat. This is an important book.” – David T.Z. Mindich, author of Just the Facts: How “Objectivity” Came to Define American Journalism and chair of Temple University’s journalism department.

Table of contents (7 chapters)

Table of contents (7 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook 37,45 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-94-6351-203-9
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Star Course
Book Subtitle
Nineteenth-Century Lecture Tours and the Consolidation of Modern Celebrity
Authors
Series Title
Transdisciplinary Studies
Copyright
2017
Publisher
Sense Publishers
Copyright Holder
SensePublishers-Rotterdam, The Netherlands
eBook ISBN
978-94-6351-203-9
DOI
10.1007/978-94-6351-203-9
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
CXVI, 18
Topics