Faculty of Arts

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2014 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Arts
Organisational UnitSchool of Arts and Social Sciences, Malaysia
Monash Passport categoryResearch Challenge (Investigate Program)
OfferedMalaysia Second semester 2014 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Dr Jonathan Driskell


Since the early 20th century film stars have been a central feature of cinema and have attained a prominent place within broader culture and society. They appear in magazines, on billboards, on television programmes, and now have a strong presence on the internet. The importance of stars stems from their economic function within cinema, their contributions to the meanings and affects of films, and their ideological role in defining and shaping popular conceptions of identity in societies at particular points in time. This course will offer a thorough interrogation of the star phenomenon, combining theoretical work derived from the field of 'star studies' with empirical analyses of specific films and stars. A host of extra-filmic materials, such as magazine articles, interviews, film reviews and promotional materials will also be analysed as students seek to identity the defining features of a number of star personas. Topics covered will include the history of stardom from the silent 'gods and goddesses' to modern day television stars and celebrity culture; the ideological role of stars in circulating and revealing dominant attitudes to class, gender, sexuality and race/ethnicity; and the cultural and national specificities of stardom through case studies of American, French, Indian and Southeast Asian stars. In doing so, there will be emphasis on the contribution stars make to the pleasures of cinema, while remaining attentive to the political implications of these hugely popular and highly influential representations of selfhood.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. Analyse the 'star persona' of stars from different periods and national contexts;
  2. Explain the significance of specific stars to the films they appear in as well as to the broader social contexts from which they emerge;
  3. Identify the main developments in the history of stardom, from the silent cinema to present day celebrity culture and explain the key cultural, political and technological reasons for such changes;
  4. Apply to specific case studies theories developed in star studies, such as Richard Dyer's notion of the 'star persona', James Naremore's ideas relating to 'star performance', and a range of concepts focusing on the ideological role of stars and stardom;
  5. Evaluate the political and ideological significance of stardom in general and of specific stars in particular;
  6. Plan and conduct research into an area of film stardom.


Participation and tutorial presentation: 20%
Research proposal: 20%
Individual research project: 60%

Chief examiner(s)

Workload requirements

One 1-hour lecture,
One 2-hour screening,
One 1-hour tutorial,
Private study - 8 hours (further reading/viewing and carrying out assessment activities), per week.

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study