Latin American Studies

Sophia A. McClennen

Sophia A. McClennen
Director of the Center for Global Studies, Professor of International Affairs and Comparative Literature


PhD, Duke University
MA, Duke University
AB, Harvard University


Dr. McClennen is professor of international affairs and comparative literature and the founding director of Penn State's Center for Global Studies, a Title VI FLAS Center, and has ties to the departments of Spanish and Women's Studies. She has published twelve books and has two in process. Her most recent monograph is Pranksters vs. Autocrats: Why Dilemma Actions Advance Nonviolent Activism (Cornell UP 2020), co-authored with Srdja Popovic. She also recently released Globalization and Latin American Cinema: Toward a New Critical Paradigm (Palgrave 2018) and The Debt Age (Routledge 2018, co-edited with Jeffrey Di Leo and Peter Hitchcock. Other recent books include The Routledge Companion to Human Rights and Literature (2015), co-edited with Alexandra Schultheis Moore, which includes over 50 contributions to the topic. She also recently published, Is Satire Saving our Nation? Mockery and American Politics (Palgrave 2014), co-authored with Penn State communications undergraduate Remy Maisel, and Neoliberalism, Terrorism, Education (Paradigm 2013), which she co-wrote with Jeffrey Di Leo, Henry Giroux, and Kenneth Saltman. Her latest manuscript is entitled The Comedians Aren't Kidding: Why Satire Makes Sense When Politics Doesn't, which analyzes the role that political satire has played in the Trump era. She is also working on a book in the global impact of political satire: The Revolution Will Be Satirized.

In addition to her books she has edited eight special issues of journals and published over 70 scholarly essays on a range of topics all of which coalesce around the question of how culture, politics, and society intersect. Her work often analyzes the links between political events and their media representations, which has led her to critique the relationship between mainstream culture, politics, bias, and social injustice. She also publishes on cultural responses to social conflict such as those associated with war, imperialism, immigration, dictatorship, patriarchy, and globalization. Other central research areas include work on political satire, social media, and the millennial generation.

She has conducted research on education and international area studies, with particular attention to how multidisciplinary approaches enhance understanding of global issues. She is particularly interested in the way that the media can influence ideas of civic agency and national ideals and she is one of the nation's leading experts on the connections between satire, democracy, and the public sphere. She regularly lectures on cultural identity, ethics, and cross-cultural communication and she is working on a method for minimizing the role of cultural bias in conflict. She teaches courses in cultures of globalization, cross-cultural conflict resolution, human rights culture, global media, political journalism, the cultures of displaced peoples, cultural trade policy, and theories of globalization.

In 2006 she was the Fulbright Research Chair in Globalization and Cultural Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and she also held a Fulbright faculty award in Peru in 2002. She has taught in Chile, Canada, Germany, Kazakhstan, and Peru, and has conducted research in those countries as well as in Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Spain, Guatemala, Uruguay, and Costa Rica.

She serves on the editorial boards of fourteen journals and regularly peer reviews for journals and government agencies in the United States and abroad. She is also on the editorial review board for a Palgrave series: Studies in Globalization, Cultural and Society (series editors Jeroen de Kloet, Director of the Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies and Esther Peeren, Vice-Director, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis). Her fellow board members include Peter Hitchcock, Arjun Appadurai, Rey Chow, Ien Ang, Ginette Verstraete, Patrice Petro, Kuan-Hsing Chen and Peter van der Veer.

She has received grant funding totaling over $4.5 million from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council, Fulbright, the Department of Education, the Tinker Foundation, the World University Network, and other funding agencies. She has served on the boards of the American Comparative Literature Association and the International American Studies Association and on an executive committee of the Modern Language Association dedicated to academic freedom and professional rights and responsibilities.

She writes regularly for Salon and has published in Huffington Post, Daily Beast, Truthout, Counterpunch, and other sites as well. She has been interviewed by Neil de Grasse Tyson, CNN, BBC TV, Wall Street Journal TV, HuffPost Live, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico, Variety, The Hill, NPR-Miami, and CBC Canada among others. Her website is: Find her on Twitter @mcclennen65.

Sophia A. McClennen