The Presidents We Imagine : Two Centuries of White House Fictions on the Page, on the Stage, Onscreen, and Online


In such popular television series as ""The West Wing"" and ""24"", in thrillers like Tom Clancy's novels, and in recent films, plays, graphic novels, and internet cartoons, America has been led by an amazing variety of chief executives. Some of these are real presidents who have been fictionally reimagined. Others are 'might-have-beens' like Philip Roth's President Charles Lindbergh. Many more have never existed except in some storyteller's mind. In ""The Presidents We Imagine"", Jeff Smith examines the presidency's ever-changing place in the American imagination. Ranging across different media and analyzing works of many kinds, some familiar and some never before studied, he explores the evolution of presidential fictions, their central themes, the impact on them of new and emerging media, and their largely unexamined role in the nation's real politics. Smith traces fictions of the presidency from the plays and polemics of the eighteenth century - when the new office was born in what Alexander Hamilton called 'the regions of fiction' - to the digital products of the twenty-first century, with their seemingly limitless user-defined ways of imagining the world's most important political figure. Students of American culture and politics, as well as readers interested in political fiction and film, will find here a colorful, indispensable guide to the many surprising ways Americans have been 'representing' presidents even as those presidents have represented them.


Jeff Smith, Paul S. Boyer
Paperback | 400 pages
156.46 x 225.04 x 24.13mm | 557.92g
Publication date
28 Feb 2009
University of Wisconsin Press
Publication City/Country
Wisconsin, United States
Illustrations note
32 b/w illustrations