Call for Chapter Proposals – Modern First Lady Media Relations Book Project

Call for Chapter Proposals – Modern First Lady Media Relations Book Project
Editor: Lisa Burns, Quinnipiac University (

I am seeking chapter contributors for an edited book tentatively titled Modern First Lady Media Relations: From Jacqueline Kennedy to Melania Trump. The study of U.S. first ladies first emerged as a serious academic discipline in the 1980s, but not much has been written about the strategies first ladies and their communications teams have used to promote their messages and manage their media coverage. And while there is some mention in the first lady literature of the role played by press secretaries, there has been no systematic examination of these women’s influence on the media relations and coverage of the women for whom they worked.

The proposed book project seeks to address this overlooked area of political communication history. There is much that can be learned about dealing with the media, rhetorical strategies, message construction, and image management from the stories of the women who shaped modern first lady media relations. There are also interesting gender dynamics to be explored, particularly the relationships between first ladies, their press secretaries (all but one has been female), and the women of the White House press corps.

The book will include chapters on first lady’s media relations from Jacqueline Kennedy through Melania Trump along with an introduction, conclusion, and a chapter offering an overview of first lady press relations before the official creation of the first lady press secretary position during the Kennedy administration. Each chapter will explore the relationship between a first lady and the media, the role played by her press secretary and communications staff in cultivating this relationship, examples of the first lady’s media coverage, and an assessment of how successful the first lady and her staff were in communicating their message through the media to the public. This project brings together multiple research perspectives including political communication, public relations, public address, history, first ladies studies, and media studies. The project timeline is as follows:
• January 28th: Letters of interest emailed to editor (details below)
• February 1st: Contributors selected and informed
• March 1st: Chapter abstract draft and contact information due from contributors
• April 15th: First draft of chapters due
• Summer 2019: Final edits of chapters, submission of completed manuscript

The chapters on the following first ladies have not yet been assigned: Jacqueline Kennedy, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama, and Melania Trump. If you would like to contribute to this project, please email a copy of your C.V. and a letter of interest noting the first lady you would like to cover, your related research experience, and why you are interested in this project to the editor at by Monday, January 28th. Authors selected to participate will be notified by Friday, February 1st.


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