The Prime-Time Presidency

The West Wing and U.S. Nationalism
Author: Trevor Parry-Giles and Shawn J. Parry-Giles
Television drama and the rhetoric of U.S. cultural identity
Paper – $30
978-0-252-07312-0
eBook – $19.95
978-0-252-09209-1
Publication Date: February 2006
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About the Book

Contrasting strong women and multiculturalism with portrayals of a heroic white male leading the nation into battle, The Prime-Time Presidency explores the NBC drama The West Wing, paying particular attention to its role in promoting cultural meaning about the presidency and U.S. nationalism. Based in a careful, detailed analysis of the "first term" of The West Wing's President Josiah Bartlet, this criticism highlights the ways the text negotiates powerful tensions and complex ambiguities at the base of U.S. national identity--particularly the role of gender, race, and militarism in the construction of U.S. nationalism. Unlike scattered and disparate collections of essays, Trevor Parry-Giles and Shawn J. Parry-Giles offer a sustained, ideologically driven criticism of The West Wing. The Prime-time Presidency presents a detailed critique of the program rooted in presidential history, an appreciation of television's power as a source of political meaning, and television's contribution to the articulation of U.S. national identity.

About the Author

Trevor Parry-Giles is an associate professor of communication and an affiliated scholar with the Center for American Politics and Citizenship at the University of Maryland, College Park. Shawn J. Parry-Giles is an associate professor of communication, affiliate associate professor of women's studies, and director of the Center for Political Communication and Civic Leadership at the University of Maryland, College Park. Their past collaborations include Constructing Clinton: Hyperreality and Presidential Image-Making in Postmodern Politics.

Reviews

"The Prime-Time Presidency is a fine example of research, argument, and insight that elucidates the intersections of political culture, commercial media, and national mythologies in The West Wing. It should be read by fans of the program, by scholars concerned with the power of the presidency in U.S. culture, and by critics interested in the ways that popular culture draws upon and reinvigorates ideologies that define Americans as citizens in and consumers of a nationalist project."--Bonnie J. Dow, author of Prime-Time Feminism: Television, Media Culture, and the Women's Movement since 1970