Understanding the presidency of the United States requires taking seriously the role that individuals play in history, but at the same time also taking seriously the realization that individual presidents are bound by legal and institutional structures as well as by cultural and economic forces often beyond their control. This is why the task of this book is to characterize the modern American presidency from a variety of academic disciplines such as history, political science and cultural studies as well as from different theoretical approaches. The essays collected in this volume grew out of conference papers held at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA), which was held in Heidelberg between May 15 and 18, 2008. Many essays are deliberately interpretive, some offer assessments of individual presidents and of particular events, others are more contextual and focus on presidential performance, on presidential rhetoric or on representations of the presidency in fiction, film and drama. von Mausbach, Wilfried
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