Our Faculty

Andrea McDonnell

Chair, Department of English; Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies

Contact Information


Office Hours

Office: Administration Building, Room 434-A


Ph.D., University of Michigan; B.A., Vassar College


Andrea McDonnell is a media scholar and author whose work examines the production, content, and audience reception of celebrity gossip. Her work emphasizes the intersection of audiences, gender, and everyday life. Professor McDonnell holds a B.A. in American Culture from Vassar College and a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Michigan. Andrea also holds a graduate certificate in Museum Studies and has worked in fine arts and children's museums throughout the northeast. 

Professor McDonnell's new book, Celebrity: A History of Fame, coauthored with Susan Douglas (University of Michigan), was published with NYU Press in 2019.  She is also the author of Reading Celebrity Gossip Magazines, published by Polity Press in 2014. Andrea has press experience and is available to comment on the following:

  • Celebrity culture in the United States
  • Fan magazine production & consumption (20th c- Present)
  • Women in the media & female audiences

What I Love About Emmanuel: 

What I appreciate most about Emmanuel is its emphasis on interdisciplinary learning.  This is something that I value in my own research and I'm happy to have the opportunity to help students pursue their own ideas, using multiple theoretical and methodological approaches.

Courses I Teach

  • ENGL1502: Introduction to Communication and Media Studies
  • ENGL3701: Media Theory
  • ENGL3311: Ethics in Documentary Film
  • ENGL3999: Celebrity and the Mass Media
  • ENGL 4994: Senior Internship
  • ENGL4999: Senior Seminar

Publications & Presentations

Celebrity: A History of Fame, New York University Press (2019)

Today, celebrity culture is an inescapable part of our media landscape and our everyday lives. This was not always the case. Over the past century, media technologies have increasingly expanded the production and proliferation of fame. Celebrity explores this revolution and its often under-estimated impact on American culture. Using numerous precedent-setting examples spanning more than one hundred years of media history, Douglas and McDonnell trace the dynamic relationship between celebrity and the technologies of mass communication that have shaped the nature of fame in the United States.

Reading Celebrity Gossip Magazines, Polity Press (2014)

Americans are obsessed with celebrities. While our fascination with fame intensified throughout the twentieth century, the rise of the weekly gossip magazine in the early 2000s confirmed and fueled our popular culture's celebrity mania. After a decade of diets and dates, breakups and baby bumps, celebrity gossip magazines continue to sell millions of issues each week. Why are readers, especially young women, so attracted to these magazines? What pleasures do they offer us? And why do we read them, even when we disagree with the images of femininity that they splash across their hot-pink covers?


  • McDonnell, A. (2018). Smashing Trump’s star: Celebrity Studies. Online first, Print Forthcoming 
  • McDonnell, A. & Wheeler, M. (Forthcoming). @realDonaldTrump: Political celebrity, authenticity, and para-social engagement on Twitter. Celebrity Studies.
  • Draper, J., & McDonnell, A. (2017). Beyond the fashion blog: Personal style bloggers' strategies of gendered self-representation across platforms. Men & Masculinities.
  • McDonnell, A. & Lin, L. (2016). The hot body issue: Weight and caption tone in celebrity gossip magazines. Body Image, 18, 74-77.
  • McDonnell, A. & Mehta, C. (2016). We could never be friends: Cross-sex relationships on celebrity gossip websites. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 5(1), 74-84.
  • McDonnell, A. (2015). Stars in space: Celebrity gossip magazines, guilt, and the liminoid airport. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 32(4), 287-301.

Recent Presentations:

  • 2018- How gender, age, and race affect depictions in celebrity gossip magazines. Presented by Dr. Linda Lin, Emmanuel College Association for Women in Psychology (AWP) Conference: Philadelphia, PA

  • 2017 - Trump’s Twitter talk: Conversation, self-presentation, and authenticity
    Ross Priory Broadcast Talk Group: University of Strathclyde, Scotland, UK
  • 2017 - The hot body issue: Weight and caption valence in celebrity gossip magazines
    Eastern Communication Convention (ECA): Boston, MA
  • 2019- Popular Culture Association (PCA) Summer Institute Grant Recipient
    Bowling Green State University

  • 2013 - Bank of America Charitable Foundation Teaching with Technology Grant
    Academic Technology & Innovation Group, Emmanuel College
  • 2012 - Howard R. Marsh Fellowship for Research on Journalism & Democracy
    Communication Studies Department, University of Michigan
  • 2011 - Junior Teaching Fellows Award
    Gayle Morris Sweetland Writing Center, University of Michigan
  • 2010 - MacDonald Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching in Communication
    Communication Studies Department, University of Michigan

Research Focus

Professor McDonnell studies the history, production, content, and audience reception of celebrity culture. Using multiple methodologies, Dr. McDonnell takes seriously the ephemeral and trivial elements of popular culture in order to understand how these phenomena influence our society in meaningful, dynamic ways. Over the past fifteen years, Professor McDonnell has studied the celebrity gossip industry, with an emphasis on weekly magazines, blogs, and social media platforms.  She considers these sites as cultural forums in which ideas of the private sphere, femininity, and everyday life are worked through and re-produced. Her recent work examines the celebrity presidency of Donald Trump and the ways in which the gossip press has influenced public perception of the Trump family.

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