Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Donileen Loseke, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sara Crawley, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Maralee Mayberry, Ph.D.


gender performance, narrative identity, women and politics


I evaluate the ways in which newspaper articles constructed the gendered cultural and personal narratives of a woman Presidential and a woman Vice-Presidential candidate during the 2008 Presidential Election season. Drawing upon West and Zimmerman's "Doing Gender" (1987) that explains gender is performed constantly throughout life, I assess the stories told about each candidate and the way she performed gender. There are two different types of stories created. The first is a personal narrative which tells the story of each individual candidate, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. The second is a cultural narrative which tells the story of a dis-embodied type of person, a woman candidate in this instance. For this study, I use 80 articles from the New York Times to evaluate the two personal narrative identities constructed about two very different female-bodied politicians, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, and the cultural narrative about a woman politician during the 2008 Presidential campaign cycle. Each candidate performed femininity and masculinity, although in ways very different from one another. They were both constructed by the media in very different ways as well. Drawing upon their identities as mothers, spouses, fighters, and politicians, these women (and the media) constructed two different images of what a woman Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate is understood to represent. Clinton and Palin had very different physical presentations and mannerisms which contributed to each being a very different type of woman candidate. Hillary Clinton's personal narrative told the story of a second wave feminist candidate while Sarah Palin's personal narrative told the story of a post- feminist candidate. The candidates (and media) told a story about very different types of a woman candidate.