Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years
Successful completion of Part 1

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 1 x 1,500 word essay  40%
Semester Assessment 1 x 3,000  60%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 1,500 word essay  All failed or missing elements must be retaken or made good. Students will be required to complete a different essay question to the one originally submitted.  40%
Supplementary Assessment 1 x 3,000 word essay.  60%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the key theoretical approaches to stars and stardom.
2. Demonstrate an awareness of the historical circumstances within Hollywood cinema that gave rise to concepts of stradom.
3. Analyse the roles played by audiences, actors, employers and different media forms in the construction of stradom.
4. Analyse the way in which case studies of specific stars illustrate stardom.
5. To relate this analysis to wider concerns within mainstream filmmaking and media performance, with particular focus on Hollywood cinema, but with reference to other examples from national cinemas around the world.

Brief description

This module is designed to investigate the subject of film stardom through an examination of contexts. A) Cultural contexts: understanding the processes by which stardom and star images are constructed within popular and public cultures. B) National: having an awareness of the different ways stars are consumed within different national and transnational contexts (both away from, and in relation to, Hollywood filmmaking). C) Theoretical: exploring how stardom has been traditionally theorised within film studies and cultural studies. D) Historical and industrial: investigating the changing role of the star within the Hollywood industry from the early 1900s to the present day, and the star as a 'worker' as well as an 'image'. As such, this module will offer a critical insight into the history of stardom within mainstream cinema. It will examine major theoretical discourses pertaining to stars, stardom and celebrity culture. Students will be encouraged to consider the correlation between individual stars and the range of contexts which define performers as stars via a series of case studies linking major stars with a variety of historical and critical approaches. The way in which stardom is constructed by producers and consumers through film texts, marketing discourses, intermedial work, national and transnational cinemas, audiences and specific historical circumstances will be analysed.


Lecture sessions will cover the following topics. Each of the topics will be explored further by means of weekly seminars:

  • The history of the Hollywood star system.
  • Star theory: star image and the classical star performer.
  • Stardom and genre.
  • Stardom and reception.
  • Marketing actors: constructing stardom and star personas.
  • Contemporary film stardom.
  • Cult stardom.
  • Transnational stardom.
  • Stardom and celebrity culture.
  • Stradom: labour and performance.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Students' written communication skills will be developed over the two pieces of assessed work that they produce. They will be encouraged to produce detailed arguments about the subject using appropriate language and style. Students will develop their oral communication skills through seminar sessions which will use both individual contributions and group contributions.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will develop their critical thinking skills. Through small group discussions and seminars students will be given opportunities to develop an awareness of the opinions of others and reconsider initial ideas if necessary.
Information Technology Students will be given opportunities to develop their skills using electronic search and retrieval of sources both on the web and on the AU LIS in the research they undertake for their assessed assignments. Students will be given the opportunities to evaluate the contents and academic value of web-based material in seminar work and in their assessed work. Students will develop their skills when referencing from the web and related sources, and will focus on the selection of materials appropriate to the task (seminar work and assessesd work). E-mail and Blackboard will be the main forms of communication and information sharing in this module, so students will be encouraged to actively engage in these processes.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will be encouraged to take increasing responsibility for managing their own learning by preparing work independently for seminar sessions. Students will be encouraged to build upon the knowledge gained frrom lectures through developng skills in self study (supported by the general and specific reading lists and other resources distributed throughout the module).
Problem solving Students should be able to identify tensions and debates in the field. They will be encouraged to engage with existing critical thought and theory and to evaluate the most appropriate material to use in their assessed work.
Research skills Students will be able to develop their skills of information location and retrieval to enable them to complete their assessed assignments. Students will be given the opportunity to develop the research skills necessary for their first assignment within seminar provision. Students will be encouraged to evaluate, interpret and reflect upon a variety of sources that they will use in their assessed work and in seminars. Students will be given the opportunity to develop their research skills in relation to both primary and secondary source material in their assessed assignments.
Subject Specific Skills
Team work Sessions will be provided that enable students to collaborate in small groups.

Reading List

Recommended Text
Austin, Thomas and Martin Barker (eds.) (2003) Contemporary Hollywood Stardom Arnold Primo search Butler, Jeremy G. (ed.) (1991) Star Texts Wayne State University Press Primo search DeCordova, Richard (1990) Picture Personalities: The Emergence of the Star System in America University of Illinois Press Primo search Dyer, Richard (1986) Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society St Martin's Press Primo search Dyer, Richard (1979) Stars BFI Primo search Fischer, Lucy and Marcia Landy (eds) (2004) Stars: The Film Reader Routledge Primo search Gledhill, Christine (ed.) (1991) Stardom: Industry of Desire Routledge Primo search Hollinger, Karen (2006) The Actress: Hollywood Acting and the Female Star Routledge Primo search MacNab, Geoffrey (2000) Searching for Stars: Rethinking British Cinema Cassell Primo search McDonald, Paul (2000) The Star System: Hollywood and the Production of Popular Identities Wallflower Press Primo search McLean, Adrienne (2004) Being Rita Hayworth: Labour, Identity and Hollywood Stardom Rutgers University Press Primo search Phillips, Alastair and Ginette Vincendeau (eds.) (2006) Journeys of Desire: European Actors in Hollywood BFI Primo search Pomerance, Murray (2005) Johnny Depp Starts Here Rutgers University Press Primo search Stacey, Jackie (1994) Star Gazing: Hollywood Cinema and Female Spectatorship Routledge Primo search Vincendeau, Ginette (2000) Stars and Stardom in French Cinema Continuum Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 5