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ERIC Number: EJ906126
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Nov
Pages: 27
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 37
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0994
Life Writing Lite: Judy Garland and Reparative Rhetorics of Celebrity Life Writing
Janangelo, Joseph
College English, v73 n2 p156-182 Nov 2010
This essay offers a rhetorical reading of entertainer Judy Garland's early life writing projects. The author focuses on two open letters Garland published in 1950, in which she talks to the public and press to let them know "the truth" ("Open") about her life and how much her audience means to her. As a troubled celebrity, Garland had for years been the subject of many public inquiries about her well-being. Many of them involved suspicions of mental illness and chemical dependency. Yet if stories about Garland's life offered her multiple occasions to eat crow, she never did. Rather, she was an effective rhetorician who was adept at defusing such stories by offering cheerful and measured responses to them. The author's argument is that those texts, which appeared in fan magazines, served as effective vehicles of recalling and renewing bonds with her audience and repairing damage done to her reputation and career. In analyzing how those informal yet very public texts assert kinship with fans, the author hopes to draw attention to the understudied ways in which pre-Internet era celebrities communicated with the public. His point is that these texts offer effective communicative templates for contemporary troubled celebrities who use public discourse in ubiquitous and understudied genres (for example, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, websites, blogs, and YouTube) to rebut bad press and repair bonds with fans. While rhetorical critics and theorists have felt increasingly committed to analyzing public discourse, they have not paid as much attention as they should to these particular uses of media, which engage mass attention even if the rhetor involved is an entertainer rather than, say, a politician. After examining Garland's texts, the author also notes the hints they offer contemporary rhetorics for crafting online life writing projects. (Contains 33 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A