My monograph, The American President in Film and Television: Myth, Politics and Representation, examines fictional representatons of the U.S. president from the early 1990s to the present day. It was published by Peter Lang Oxford in September 2014.
The book moves away from the field's preoccupation with questions of history and authenticity, to view the president as an archetype within Hollywood's generic, iconographic and narrative traditions. In conjunction with research into the social, political and historical contexts from which the texts emerge, I am concerned with their textual specificities, and the ways in which their visual styles impact the representation of political power.
CENTRAL CONCERNS AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS
My work encompasses discussion of genre, examining the role of the presidency in the Hollywood comedies, action films, disaster movies and thrillers. How does generic convention intersect with representations of the presidency?
I am also particularly concerned with issues surrounding gender and the masculine conception of the presidency, and the ways in which this construct is anxiously maintained in representations of the office. The book's final chapter addresses fictional representations of female presidents in American television.
In light of Barack Obama's presidency, my research also encompasses questions of race and ethnicity in relation to the fictional presidency. Did the films that featured fictional black presidents that preceded Obama's election really "predict" his candidacy? This work encompasses debates surrounding stereotyping of black men in mainstream cinema and television.
I illustrate how, by casting the president as a central character within the conventions of mainstream cinema and television, these media have participated in the redefinition of the presidency in the post-Cold War and post-9/11 periods, reinforcing the ideologies propagated not only by mainstream audiovisual culture, but by the United States as a whole.
My key texts include Air Force One [Wolfgang Petersen, 1997], Independence Day [Roland Emmerich, 1996], Dave [Ivan Reitman, 1993], The American President [Rob Reiner, 1995], The West Wing [created by Aaron Sorkin, 1999-2006], Deep Impact [Mimi Leder, 1998], 2012 [Roland Emmerich, 2009], 24 [created by Joel Surnow, 2001-2010], Commander in Chief [Rod Lurie, 2005-6].
'Seeing Obama, Projecting Kennedy: The Presence of JFK in Images of Barack Obama', Comparative American Studies 10:2-3 (2012), 163-76.
'"The Real Thing": Election Campaigns and The Question of Authenticity in American Film and Television', Journal of American Studies (available online, forthcoming).
'Between "Information" and "Inspiration": The Office of War Information, Frank Capra's Why We Fight and US World War II Propaganda', in Claire Molloy and Yannis Tzioumakis (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Politics (London: Routledge, 2015) (forthcoming).
'Imagining a Female President: Commander in Chief and the Unfinished Business of Presidential Fiction', US Studies Online (March 2015).
'The War Memorial in Visual Culture: Triumphalism and Repression in The West Wing and The X-Files', US Studies Online (August 2014).
'The Myth of John F. Kennedy in Film and Television', submitted to Film & History (accepted, pending minor revisions).
The American President in Film and Television: Myth, Politics and Representation was commissioned by Peter Lang after I was a finalist in their 2012 Young Scholars in Film Studies competition. This work, which is based on the findings of my doctoral research, was funded by the AHRC Block Grant Competition.
G dot R dot Frame at warwick dot ac dot uk