Knowing the president: The dialogic evolution of the campaign history

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since its inception in 1961, the campaign history has become an important, recurring feature of the political landscape. This essay traces the development of the genre by exploring two key exemplars: Theodore H. White's The Making of the President 1960 and Richard Ben Cramer's What It Takes: The Way to the White House. Critique of the genre reveals that the books make sense of the election, develop a reciprocal relationship between private man and public figure, and create an authoritarian reading of the election. The evolution of the campaign history from While's epic narrative of the Kennedy campaign to Cramer's dialogic depiction of a political culture suggests the ways in which American political discourse has begun to reinvent itself for contemporary society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-40
Number of pages18
JournalQuarterly Journal of Speech
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • American political discourse
  • Bakhtin
  • Campaign history
  • Genre
  • Presidential character

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education


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