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Making Marie CurieIntellectual Property and Celebrity Culture in an Age of Information$
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Eva Hemmungs Wirtén

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226235844

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226235981.001.0001

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Scandal, Slander, and Science

Scandal, Slander, and Science

Surviving 1911

(p.41) 2 Scandal, Slander, and Science
Making Marie Curie

Eva Hemmungs Wirtén

University of Chicago Press

This chapter revolves around the year 1911, Marie Curie’s own annus horribilis. The narrative is bookended by two events that both caused enormous press coverage and public interest and that in combination catapulted her to a new level of celebrity statues. First, the candidacy to l’Academie des sciences in January, where she aimed for the ultimate goal: becoming the first immortelle among the immortel of the Academie. She lost against Eduard Branly with only two votes, and never reapplied again. The impact of the second event would be even more dramatic. In 1910, four years after Pierre Curie’s death in 1906, Marie Curie had entered into a romantic relationship with Paul Langevin, a married colleague and fellow scientist. The press caught wind of the liaison and the chapter focuses on the five duels fought over her (by newspaper editors) as the result of what became known as the so-called Langevin affaire in November-December. These highly publicized events and Curie’s celebrity status functions as a catalyst for a more general discussion on the relationship between the press and the scientific community.

Keywords:   duels, mass press, journalism, Academie des sciences, libel, slander, gender, fame, celebrity

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