Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Published In

A History Of African American Autobiography


Anthony Foy’s chapter asks how do we approach the overdetermined narrative of the African American celebrity as a modern variant of African American autobiography, rather than simply dismissing it for its lack or artistry, activism, or authenticity? Foy observes that (1) the Black celebrity narrative recounts the emergence, circulation, reception, and transformation of the star’s image while also registering the synedcochic function of the star’s racialized body; (2) it features the sites, activities, practices, and products of consumer culture in order to ratify the star’s status as exemplary consumer and alluring commodity; and (3) it commodifies authenticity by promising to reveal the putative real self beneath the racial persona. Ultimately, Foy calls for a fresh examination of the Black star’s autobiographical production that thoroughly attends to its historical contingency, political complexity, and theoretical possibility.

Published By



J. Moody


This material has been published in A History of African American Autobiography, edited by Joycelyn Moody. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use. © 2021 Cambridge University Press.

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