Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Linda Beail, professor of political science, director of Margaret Stevenson’s Center for Women’s Studies

Date: 
Thursday, December 13, 2012

In her new book, Framing Sarah Palin: Pit Bulls, Puritans, and Politics, co-authored with Rhonda Kinney Longworth, PLNU political science professor Linda Beail looks at what the frames applied to Palin during her campaign tell us about the state of American politics—and about the status of American women in politics in particular.

After the significant campaigns of Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton in 2008, women are not center stage in the current election, but women voters remain a critical target for both campaigns.

Palin’s 2008 vice presidential candidacy garnered tremendous levels of interest, polarizing the American public—Democrats and Republicans alike. Using the notion of “framing” as a way of understanding political perception, the authors analyze the narratives told by and about Sarah Palin in the 2008 election—from beauty queen, maverick, faithful fundamentalist, and post-feminist role model to pit bull hockey mom, frontier woman, and political outsider. They discuss where those frames are rooted historically in popular and political culture, why they were selected, and the ways that the frames resonated with the electorate.
 
While many have wondered who Palin “really” is, trying to cut through the persona she projects and the one projected by the media, Beail and Longworth analyze why she touches such a nerve with the American electorate. Why does she ignite such passionate loyalty—and such loathing? How did her candidacy mobilize new parts of the electorate? What do the debates engendered by these images of Palin say about the current roles and power available to women in American society? What are the implications of her experience for future candidates, particularly women candidates, in American politics?

“We examine media and popular culture portrayals of Palin, looking at the implications for party and gender politics. The book also has a good examination of evangelicals in American politics,” said Beail.

The book is available now at Amazon.com