University of Rochester

EVENT: Public Invited to Explore Presidential Campaign and Media Interactions With Speakers and Films Series

September 14, 2007

The 2008 presidential candidates are putting up MySpace pages, sitting down with Jon Stewart and Ellen DeGeneres, and about a dozen of them will soon have books on the market.

The media is using the opportunity to scrutinize not just the candidates' political positions, but their personal lives, too, says University of Rochester Political Scientist Valeria Sinclair-Chapman. What this interchange means for the candidates and even voters is unclear, but the community can explore that issue and more at the University this year through a series of films, speakers and roundtables, "Politics and Media Constructions: Anticipating the 2008 Election." Scholars from Rochester as well other universities are participating in the series, which begins Thursday.

Sinclair-Chapman, who organized the series with Stephanie Li, University Assistant Professor of English, said they want to provide a more complete picture of candidates that is free of spin.

"This project was driven by the number of books candidates are writing," Sinclair-Chapman said. "Candidates are having one-sided conversations and we want to put them in context."

All of the series events are free and open to the public. For a complete listing of events visit

Li said the goal of the series is to get voters thinking and talking about the upcoming election. A wide range of candidates are campaigning earlier than ever before and they're using new campaign methods. The election is also unusual, Li said, because no incumbent or outgoing vice president is running.

"We want to start a discussion about all of these issues and highlight how really new the 2008 election is going to be," Li said.

The series kicks off Thursday with a screening of Journeys with George, a documentary that follows George W. Bush on his 2000 presidential campaign trail. The film, directed and edited by Alexandra Pelosi, the daughter of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, will be shown at 7 p.m. in Morey Hall room 321.

Five other films about campaigns and elections outcomes will be shown this fall as part of the series. Each film examines how the media can be either a strategic tool or adversary of campaigns.

Two speakers also will come to campus as part of the series. On Sept. 28, Daniel Schwarz, the Fredric J. Whiton Professor of English Literature, and a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow in the Department of English at Cornell University, will talk about the New York Times' representation of presidential candidates. The newspaper, he contends, presents candidates differently depending on their stance on certain "core values" of the newspaper.

On Oct. 9, Curt Smith, author, radio/television host, columnist, senior lecturer of English at the University, and presidential speechwriter for former President George H. W. Bush, will explore the effect of George W. Bush's presidency and the 2008 presidential campaign.

"Politics and Media Constructions: Anticipating the 2008 Election" is part of The Humanities Project, which highlights interdepartmental works by University faculty in the humanities through a variety of events.