Historical Social Research

Antoine Lilti & Alice Le Goff: On Figures Publiques: L’Invention de la Célébrité (1750-1850): Mechanisms of Celebrity and Social Esteem.[Abstract]

In this interview, conducted in April 2016 by Alice Le Goff, Antoine Lilti presents his work on the “invention of celebrity” and discusses its contribution to the study of the logic of social esteem. Le Goff begins by outlining the core themes of his earlier work on salons as well as his latest book on celebrity, Figures Publiques, and in the interview poses a number of important questions going to the heart of Lilti’s important and innovative contribution to the history oy celebrity. The topics include the importance of the 18th century in celebrity’s history, the concept of the public sphere, the significance of Gabriel Tarde’s sociology of imitation as well as Norbert Elias’s analysis of court society, how ‘celebrity’ should be distinguished from ‘glory,’ the volatility and ambiguity of celebrity, the core dimensions of the mechanisms of celebrity as illustrated by case studies such as Voltaire and Rosseau, and the future types of studies for which Lilti’s book lays the foundation.

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