Abstract

Abstract:

This essay intervenes in recent scholarship on modernism and celebrity that treats fame as a unidirectional performance by emphasizing the extent to which Gertrude Stein's celebrity is the product of external artifice: particularly, the invocation of preexisting social types drawn from mass culture and circulated by publishers and promoters eager to market Stein to an audience expecting a very specific model of (feminine) success. Having become a best seller in no small part due to its "gossipy" look into the glamorous world of the Parisian art movement, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas transformed Stein into a bona fide star. But while Stein had actively courted commercial success, her first taste of celebrity came with a discomfiting loss of control. With so many people eager to "know" her, Stein felt her own sense of self slipping away. By pairing critical analysis of Stein's own thoughts on celebrity with her often-overlooked Lectures in America, I argue that Stein's lectures, presented as they were to audiences expecting the same "gossipy" depictions they received in the autobiography, are not only a subversion of the expectations associated with fame but a frank depiction of its failures, a self-conscious demonstration of the artifice of celebrity.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1456
Print ISSN
0162-4962
Pages
pp. 485-503
Launched on MUSE
2017-11-22
Open Access
No
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