With the mid-term elections recently behind us and the 2012 Presidential elections drawing closer, Jeffrey Alexander’s piece “Heroes, Presidents, and Politics” reminds us that political narratives are stories about heroes. There are many ways you can use the article, which can be read online here, in the classroom.
*Alexander stresses that narratives and images are created. Gary-Alan Fine’s work on reputational entrepreneurs further elaborates how and why certain reputations are created, and his article on reputational entrepreneurs and the image of President Harding could be used to complement this piece. Assign both articles to students, and ask your students to discuss who might work as a reputational entrepreneur for Obama or McCain (i.e.. political parties, lobbyists, public officials, etc.).
*Ask students to find pictures, articles, and other campaign materials from recent elections and to discuss what narratives the campaigns were trying to create.
*The lesson could also be combined with Nathan Palmer’s suggestions on how to teach hero-making.