Considering Aaron Sorkin

Essays on the Politics, Poetics and Sleight of Hand in the Films and Television Series

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About the Book

Aaron Sorkin is one of the most notable voices in Hollywood, attracting millions of weekly viewers with his television series The West Wing and scoring box office success with films like A Few Good Men and The American President. With a musician’s sense of rhythm and writing skills honed in the theater, Sorkin crafts dialogue that brings characters to life. His crisp, tight language is both exciting to listen to and poetic in its beauty and power—but what lies behind the slick, sophisticated exchanges between Sorkin’s characters? Does Sorkin’s ability to captivate viewers with rapid-fire, humorous dialogue lull them into overlooking an inherent political agenda, a sense of elitism, and gender bias prominent throughout his work? Aaron Sorkin’s skill as a writer garners him accolades, even from his critics: complex, nuanced, sometimes subtle but often forceful, Sorkin’s work is best understood when viewed from a variety of perspectives.
This collection of essays on the work of Aaron Sorkin affords greater insight into the complexities of his writing, drawing connections between the film and television output of today’s most prominent and influential screenwriter. Scholars from various fields—film, literature, art history, political science, and more—examine the thematic content and rhetorical strategy of Sorkin’s writing. Eleven essayists explore the subtle, pervasive and often contradictory messages woven throughout Sorkin’s work, from politics to portrayals of women, and consider his impact on film, television and culture. An interview with Aaron Sorkin precedes the essays, each of which has notes and a bibliography. An appendix covering film and television credits is included.
Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Fahy, also the author of several books and editor of Considering David Chase: Essays on The Rockford Files, Northern Exposure and The Sopranos (2007) and Considering Alan Ball: Essays on Sexuality, Death and America in the Television and Film Writings (2006) is an assistant professor of English and director of American Studies at Long Island University.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Thomas Fahy
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 229
Bibliographic Info: appendix, notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2005
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2120-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5165-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1

Thomas Fahy

1. An Interview with Aaron Sorkin      11

2. Mannerist Noir: Malice      19

3. In Plain View and the Dark Unknown: Narratives of the Feminine Body in Malice      37

4. Athletes, Grammar Geeks, and Porn Stars: The Liberal Education of Sports Night      61

5. A Phantom Fly and Frightening Fish: The Unconscious Speaks in Sports Night      77

6. His Girl Friday (and Every Day): Brilliant Women Put to Poor Use      91

7. Depictions of the U.S. Military: Only “A Few Good Men” Need Apply      101

8. Giving Propaganda a Good Name: The West Wing      115

9. Handling the Truth: Sorkin’s Liberal Vision      127

10. Virtue from Vice: Duty, Power, and The West Wing      147

11. Women of The West Wing: Gender Stereotypes in the Political Fiction      179

12. The Republic of Sorkin: A View from the Cheap Seats      193

Appendix: Sorkin’s Works for Film and Television      211

About the Contributors      219

Index      221