Performing Presidential Age

"It's about how old your ideas are"


  • Valerie Barnes Lipscomb University of South Florida



During a February surprise appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, President Joe Biden whipped out his trademark aviator sunglasses and traded quips with Meyers about a supposed conspiracy with Taylor Swift, much to the delight of the younger live audience. The next day, reviews were mixed about whether the president was trying too hard or did in fact manage to look hipper. To look younger. While US presidential nominees have been consciously performing their campaigns for decades, during this cycle, considering age as a performance has been especially prominent. Commentators and critics have specifically addressed the careful staging of persona that is central to presidential politics but is not always acknowledged as such.

Author Biography

Valerie Barnes Lipscomb, University of South Florida

Valerie Barnes Lipscomb is a Professor of English at the University of South Florida. With Aagje Swinnen, she recently edited The Palgrave Handbook of Literature and Aging (2024); Palgrave Macmillan also published her monograph, Performing Age in Modern Drama (2016), and a collection edited with Leni Marshall, Staging Age: The Performance of Age in Theatre, Dance, and Film (2010). Lipscomb’s articles on theatrical representations of age have appeared in such journals as Modern Drama and the Journal of Aging Studies. She serves as treasurer of the North American Network in Aging Studies and has chaired the Modern Language Association’s Age Studies Forum.


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How to Cite

Barnes Lipscomb, V. “Performing Presidential Age: ‘It’s about How Old Your Ideas Are’”. Age, Culture, Humanities: An Interdisciplinary Journal, vol. 8, May 2024, doi:10.7146/ageculturehumanities.v8i.145209.