To Tell a Story to the American People

First page of “To Tell a Story to the American People”

Throughout the 2012 presidential election, ‘narrative’ stood out as a dominant paradigm in discussions of contemporary politics: Countless commentators asserted the importance of competing narratives, pointing out the extent to which electoral success depended on the president’s (and the contenders’) ability to tell compelling stories of themselves and of the nation. Put differently, then, one of the most dominant narratives of the 2012 election cycle was that of the importance of ‘narrative’ in politics. This paper attempts a meta-perspective on this discursive prevalence of ‘narrative,’ asking not what role narratives play in contemporary politics but interrogating the sudden burst of broad cultural interest in the power of narrative in politics to understand the cultural work done in evoking the category. More specifically, this paper will read the current dominance of ‘narrative’ as a popular theorizing of postmodernization.

Herrmann, Sebastian M. “‘To Tell a Story to the American People:’ Elections, Postmodernism, and Popular Narratology.” Electoral Cultures: American Democracy and Choice. Ed. Georgiana Banita and Sascha Pöhlmann. Heidelberg: Winter, 2015. 323-39. Print.