Communication Professor Sam Riley edits encyclopedia of celebrity culture

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 25, 2010 – Sam G. Riley, professor of communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, has edited a new book entitled "Star Struck: An Encyclopedia of Celebrity Culture."

Riley’s 17th book, published by Greenwood Press (now owned by ABC-CLIO), examines America’s modern celebrity culture from various perspectives.

“This book takes a balanced look at the roles celebrity plays in our lives — how on one hand it sometimes causes us to live in a world of make believe, diverting us from more important matters,” explained Riley, “but also acknowledging that the output of America’s enormous entertainment industry (including sports) very likely is our nation’s biggest export.”

Riley penned 35 of the 86 entries. Seven present or former Department of Communication faculty members contributed to Star Struck including Jimmy Ivory, Nancy Jurek, Robert Magee, Stephen Prince, Edd Sewell, John Tedseco, and Beth Waggenspack.

The focus of the book is not on individual celebrities but delves into literary and artistic celebrity, celebrity endorsements, the phenomenon of one-name celebrity, celebrity’s use of pseudonyms, and privacy issues along with right of publicity. In conjunction with the 15 minutes of fame phenomenon,” Riley is also writing an experimental informational blog, which examines “the curious matter of temporary celebrity” in greater detail.

Based on the era from 1950 to the present, Star Stuck spans a period in which the influence of celebrity has grown exponentially. It examines the difference between fame and celebrity and points out how the nature of celebrity has changed gradually over America’s history. It also makes the case that in today’s America, celebrity culture, the youth culture, media culture, and much of popular culture have very nearly merged into one.

Riley, a resident of Blacksburg, received his bachelor’s degree from Davidson College, and a M.B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina.