The first English-language monograph on the French dancer and model, Cléo de Mérode and the Rise of Modern Celebrity Culture explores the haunting legacy of this intriguing and glamorous figure, an international celebrity at the dawn of modern celebrity culture. Situating Mérode at a pivotal moment in the history of fame and visual culture, this study analyzes how technological and societal changes led to our star-struck modernity. Mérode was one of the earliest examples of fame born from mass visual culture, as newly available postcards circulated her image around the globe. Through Mérode, Michael D. Garval illuminates broader trends of the Belle Ã‰poque: persistent statue fetishism within a vibrant monumental culture, rampant exoticism amid unprecedented colonial expansion, the rapid growth of the illustrated press, the rise of female show business personalities, the advent of cinema and x-rays, and a burgeoning sense of new visual possibilities. The volume examines how Mérode heralded modern celebrity icons; problematizes the status of women and women's bodies under intense public scrutiny; and exposes the paradoxes of a society captivated by a mass media-driven dream of intimacy from afar.Cléo de Mérode and the Rise of Modern Celebrity Culture probes the neglected prehistory of a visual culture obsessed with celebrities and their images.
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