Sarah J. Townsend

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Sarah J. Townsend


  1. PhD, New York University
  2. BA, University of Iowa


I came to Penn State as an Assistant Professor after completing a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley and an American Council of Learned Societies New Faculty Fellowship at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In broad terms, my work deals with connections between culture, capital, and politics from the nineteenth century through the present. Most often I explore these issues through a focus on theater and/or other media in Latin America, though both my research and teaching interests are comparative in nature.

I am the co-editor (with Diana Taylor) of Stages of Conflict: A Critical Anthology of Latin American Theater and Performance, and I recently finished a book manuscript titled The Unfinished Art of Theater: Avant-Garde Intellectuals in Mexico and Brazil (under contract with Northwestern University Press). In Summer 2016 I spent two months in Manaus, Brazil beginning research and fieldwork for a second book project that revolves around the Teatro Amazonas, an opera house built during the height of the Amazonian rubber boom of the late nineteenth century and now the site of an international opera festival. I have also conducted archival research for several other projects related to my interest in sound studies and the history of audio technologies. In collaboration with my colleague Judith Sierra-Rivera I coordinate the Hemispheric Americas lecture series at Penn State.

For more information and copies of my publications visit:

Select Publications:

  • "Radio/Puppets, or the Institutionalization of a Media Revolution and the Afterlife of a Mexican Avant-Garde." Cultural Critique 91 (Fall 2015, Special issue on Comparative Radios).
  • "Modernism's Unfinished Stage: Theater in Latin America." In The Modernist World, ed. Stephen Ross and Allana Lindgren (Routledge, 2015). 
  • "De sobremesa, 'crónicas revestidas de galas' y el escenario ausente del modernismo hispanomericano," Revista iberoamericana 232-233 (julio-diciembre 2010).
  • "Total Theater and the Missing Pieces of the Brazilian Avant-Garde." Modernism/Modernity 16, no. 2 (April 2009).
  • Stages of Conflict: A Critical Anthology of Latin American Theater and Performance, co-edited with Diana Taylor (University of Michigan Press, 2008).

Recent Courses:

  • Culture, Capital, and the Global Jungle (graduate)
  • Brazil and Comparative Modernisms (graduate)
  • Race, Performance, and Possession in the Americas (graduate)
  • The International Amazon (undergrad seminar in Portuguese)
  • Avant-Garde Primitivisms (undergrad seminar in Spanish)
  • Mexi-Cali Noir (undergrad seminar in Spanish)
  • Portuguese for Romance Language Speakers

Contact Information
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