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The president of the United States traditionally serves as a symbol of power, virtue, ability, dominance, popularity, and patriarchy. In recent years, however, the high-profile candidacies of Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Bachmann have provoked new interest in gendered popular culture and how it influences Americans’ perceptions of the country’s highest political office.

In this timely volume, editors Justin S. Vaughn and Lilly J. Goren lead a team of scholars in examining how the president and the first lady exist as a function of public expectations and cultural gender roles. The authors investigate how the candidates’ messages are conveyed, altered, and interpreted in “hard” and “soft” media forums, from the nightly news to daytime talk shows, and from tabloids to the blogosphere. They also address the portrayal of the presidency in film and television productions such as Kisses for My President (1964), Air Force One (1997), and Commander in Chief (2005).

With its strong, multidisciplinary approach, Women and the White House commences a wider discussion about the possibility of a female president in the United States, the ways in which popular perceptions of gender will impact her leadership, and the cultural challenges she will face.

Justin S. Vaughn is assistant professor of political science at Boise State University.

Lilly J. Goren is professor of politics and global studies at Carroll University and the editor of You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby: Women, Politics, and Popular Culture.

"At a time when college students seem more likely to get their political news from 'The Daily Show' than newspapers or even television network news, this lively collection of essays will help them decode many of the political messages they receive from popular culture."--Bruce Altschuler, author of Acting Presidents: 100 Years of Plays about the Presidency

"In a series of grounded, empirically and theoretically rich studies, Vaughn and Goren have brought together chapters that explore the relationships among gender, popular culture and the presidency in a thoughtful, nuanced way. These studies expose why and how popular culture reflects and shapes public consciousness about political life in general and gender in specific. The gendered reality of popular culture has profound implications for women's political prospects. This is an important, impressive book."--Lane Crothers, author of Globalization and American Popular Culture

"Heightened interest by political scientists in analyzing the impact of shifting popular culture platforms on candidate framing, representations of gender and race, election dynamics and leadership strategies makes this eclectic volume a timely and stimulating foray . This is a rich, sometimes quirky and necessarily improvisational volume which hunts some very big game. The (mostly) younger scholars here energetically and eclectically traverse the multi-leveled terrain of mass culture, executive power, political engagement, political knowledge and the iterations of gender and race which run throughout. Vaughn and Goren’s ambitious volume is an excellent effort that helps bring the specific ways of knowing offered by political science to the cross-field, cross-disciplinary urge to unpack the large-scale dynamics of culture and politics in a digital, entertainment age. This volume offers uniquely current content for courses on the American presidency, elections, media and politics, women and politics, race studies and pop culture."--Christine Kelly, professor of political science, William Paterson University

“With its focus on popular culture, Women and the White House provides an important missing link in our understanding of the relationship between gender and the presidency. This path-breaking volume demonstrates the crucial and multifaceted role that popular culture plays in influencing and reflecting how women negotiate the terrain of high-level executive politics.”--Susan J. Carroll, Professor of Political Science and Women's and Gender Studies, Rutgers University

Featuring twelve articles from a variety of accomplished scholars, this book considers the intersection of gender, popular culture, and the presidency from a multitude of angles. Covering such wide-ranging topics as SNL, the White House garden, Oprah, the West Wing, viral videos, Sarah Palin, history, and tabloids, this book sheds a lot of light on America's lack of a female Commander-in-Chief. With such an array of subjects, this book is sure to have something for anyone even vaguely interested in the gendered politics of the American system. I know I was both fascinated and enlightened. -- San Francisco Book Review -- Audrey Curtis -- San Francisco Book Review

Dear Appalachia breathes new life into literary reception studies....A dream text for courses in regionalism or southern or Appalachian literature, this work is also a model for American literary and cultural studies methods courses. -- The Southern Literary Journal

Winner of the Susan Koppelman Award Winner of the Peter C. Rollins Award for Popular Culture

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






United States, Women presidential candidates, Presidential candidates, Women, Political actvity, Presidents


American Popular Culture

Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics
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