Events | Panel Discussion: "The Habitus of Power: Female Presidents in TV Series" [CANCELLED]

Los Angeles | March 26, 2020 | 7:00 PM

As part of the university-wide response to COVID-19, USC has cancelled all public events until March 29.

Read the official statement here.

While the election year is bringing considerable interest in whether or not a woman may conquer the White House for the first time, female presidents have long become a fictional reality in various TV shows.

From House of Cards' Claire Underwood to Allison Taylor in 24 and Elizabeth McCord in Madame Secretary to Selena Meyer in Veep, female presidents are partially portrayed as competent leaders with a distinct thirst for power who expose or utilize the sexism of the political establishment. But often enough their presence in the highest office is also a cause for concern: these presidents have to meet the suspicion to have obtained the position illegitimately and equate to a crisis for the Oval Office, or even to the democratic system in its entirety.

Elisabeth Bronfen, cultural scientist at the University of Zurich, Heike Paul, americanist and Fellow at the Thomas Mann House and Ellen Seiter from the USC School of Cinematic Arts will reflect on current American TV series and how they prepare us for the first female US president. The event is moderated by historian Paul Lerner, director of the USC Max Kade Institute.

Elisabeth Bronfen is Professor of English and American Studies at the University of Zurich and Global Distinguished Professor at New York University. A specialist in the 19th and 20th century literature she has also written articles in the area of gender studies, psychoanalysis, film, cultural theory, and visual culture. Current research projects include: Serial Shakespeare; Mad Men and the American Cultural Imaginary; Seriality and twenty-first century DVD-novels; the gender of political sovereignty; and a monograph on Shakespeare's theater.

Heike Paul is professor for American Studies at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) and Fellow at the Thomas Mann House, Los Angeles. Her research in cultural studies focuses especially on forms and functions of the sentimental and on dimensions of tacit knowledge. In 2018, Heike Paul was awarded with the Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz-Preis of the German Research Foundation. She is co-author of The Comeback of Populism: Transatlantic Perspectives im Winter Verlag, 2019.

Ellen Seiter holds the Nenno Endowed Chair in Television Studies at the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she teaches courses on television and new media history, theory and criticism in the Critical Studies Division. She is the author of The Internet Playground: Children’s Access, Entertainment and Mis-Education (Peter Lang, 2005) and Television and New Media Audiences (Oxford, 1999). Her latest book, The Creative Artist’s Legal Guide: Copyright, Trademark and Contracts in Film and Digital Media Production was published in 2012 by Yale University Press.


USC Max Kade Institute

This event is a cooperation of Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House and USC.

Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House e. V. is supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.



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