Bodies of executive citizenship: embodied rhetorical performances of the presidency from Reagan to Obama

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
David Michael Rogers (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Hephzibah Roskelly

Abstract: This dissertation contributes to the recent resurgence of scholarship devoted to the American presidency by arguing that the role of the presidential body works as a singularly significant crucial point for notions of citizenship and national identity. Addressing presidential bodies as texts shows that the singularity of the presidential body positions it as a dense site of affect and identification that allows for leadership and the organization of politics to work through the management of emotions. In particular, the emergence of television allows presidents to embody sovereign power in ways that both sentimentalize it and separate the performance of singular, model citizenship from populations more or less abandoned as not-quite-national subjects. By exploring how media imagine the chief executive and how presidents represent themselves on television, in speeches, and in campaign documentaries, I identify national scripts that constitute executive citizenship, a concept I develop and see as crucial to the management of public and private life. By highlighting the fundamental role executive performances play in constructing an image of national citizenship and shaping feelings of belonging, I challenge traditional narratives that figure citizenship in the U.S. as natural rather than deliberately constructed through rhetoric and language.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Effect theory, Barack Obama, Belonging, Citizenship, Presidential Body, Presidents
Obama, Barack $x Language
Communication in politics $z United States
Rhetoric $x Political aspects $z United States
Mass media $x Political aspects $z United States

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