Spectacular Disappearances: Celebrity and Privacy, 1696-1801
How can people in the spotlight control their self-representations when the whole world seems to be watching? Professor of Theater, Dance & Performance Studies Julia Fawcett examines 18th-century London as England's first modern celebrities performed their own strange and spectacular self-representations. These representations include the enormous wig that actor Colley Cibber donned in his comic role as Lord Foppington; the black page of Tristram Shandy, a memorial to the parson Yorick (and author Laurence Sterne), a page so full of ink that it cannot be read; and the puffs and prologues that actor. playwright, producer David Garrick used to heighten his publicity while protecting his privacy. Like a spotlight so brilliant it is blinding, these exaggerated but illegible self-representations suggest a new way of understanding some of the key aspects of celebrity culture, both in the eighteenth century and today.
After an introduction by Abigail De Kosnik (Theater, Dance & Performance Studies), Fawcett speaks briefly about her work and then open the floor for discussion.