The University of Western Australia
Since the 1970s, there has been a steady increase in proximity between popular entertainment and literary authorship. The phenomenon of literary celebrity and its paradigms of media performance are clear signals of the new entertainment value being exacted by contemporary audiences. However, in the literary arena there is much cultural anxiety concerning the word ‘entertainment.’
This paper explores some of the ideological contestations and current ambivalences surrounding the Australian literary celebrity, and asks, exactly what are the new roles and social functions of these authors? Do they represent a collaboration of new technologies and aesthetics, or do they simply signify a shift towards what Janice Radway calls the declension narrative? I would like to argue they are part of a more complex ‘moment’ in a larger formation questioning the politics of the literary and suggest that they represent the convergence of two previously incompatible discourses: literary authorship and popular celebrity culture. Contemporary expressions such as, participatory culture, literary brand ambassador, mediagenic author, and literary media entertainment are clear indications of this shift in the terrain and logics of literary celebrity.