How Public Figures Became Glamorous Accessories: Affect Worlds, Consumer Culture, and Visual Technologies in the Long Nineteenth Century

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Abstract

This essay analyzes how public figures became accessories and what audiences gained from that accessorization. It argues that the development of three visual technologies—lithography, carte-de-visite photography, and the twinned impact of photojournalism and brand name commercial images—materially contributed to a solipsism of equivalence in the German consumer. Social and political celebrities became glamourous accessories to be appropriated metonymically, playfully, and temporarily, through a highly individualized pursuit of the self in consumerism and in ways that privileged the affect world of the spectators. Focusing on material culture, specifically in the form of lithographs, photographs and their albums, and celebrity-branded consumer goods, the essay examines the mediatization and expansion of consumerism that accompanied the economic upturn of the 1890s, as the ability to eat, wear, and otherwise consume celebrity-branded goods intensified the accessorization of celebrities, including politicians and other public figures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-110
Number of pages26
JournalMedia History
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • History

Keywords

  • Europe
  • celebrity
  • mass media
  • nineteenth century
  • photography
  • reception studies
  • visual studies

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