Event: Heroes, Statesmen, Philanderers, and Fools: The American Presidency in Popular Culture




“Heroes, Statesmen, Philanderers, and Fools: The American Presidency in Popular Culture,” by Sarah Marcus, PhD, from the Chicago History Museum.  This program is provided by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council.

Werewolves roam the White House. A President is assassinated on the streets of Chicago. Another President dukes it out with terrorists aboard Air Force One. Explore the American presidency as it has been depicted in television and film – from fictional characters like West Wing’s Josiah Bartlet to fictionalizations of real presidents in Birth of a Nation and the internet sensation JibJab. Although primarily intended to entertain, these depictions also offer criticism, praise, and alternative visions of contemporary political life. What images do they create, and what insights can we gain about American politics and culture?

Sarah Marcus is a Historian at the Chicago History Museum, where she also serves as Managing Editor of the online Encyclopedia of Chicago. Sarah received her doctorate in American History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001, writing a dissertation on images of Chicago and the Middle West in popular culture. Recently she has taught courses at Northwestern University, Loyola University Chicago, and the College of DuPage. Dr. Marcus speaks throughout the Chicago area and internationally on various topics, including the Encyclopedia of Chicago project, the history of Chicago in television and film, and images of the American Presidency in popular culture.

Recorded at the Highland Park Library on April 28, 2009 by WBEZ’s Chicago Amplified.