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Sarah J. Townsend

Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese


Email:
Office Phone: (814) 865-4252

Education:

  1. New York University (PhD)
  2. University of Iowa (BA)

Biography:

I received my PhD from New York University and came to Penn State after completing a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities at UC-Berkeley and an American Council of Learned Societies New Faculty Fellowship at UC-Santa Barbara.

In broad terms, my work deals with the connections among culture, capital, and politics from the nineteenth century to the present. Most often, I explore this dynamic through a focus on theater and/or other media in Latin America, though both my research and teaching interests are comparative in nature. (In addition to Spanish and Portuguese, I also work with materials in French, Italian, and German, and once upon a time I spent two years studying Yoruba). I am the co-editor (with Diana Taylor) of Stages of Conflict: A Critical Anthology of Latin American Theater and Performance, and my other publications include articles in journals such as Cultural Critique, Modernism/Modernity, Revista Iberoamericana, Revista Hispánica Moderna, and Modern Drama, as well as an essay in the collection The Modernist World. 

My book The Unfinished Art of Theater: Avant-Garde Intellectuals in Mexico and Brazil is forthcoming with Northwestern UP in July 2018. In Summer 2016 and 2017 I spent several months in Manaus, Brazil beginning research and fieldwork for a second book project called Opera in the Amazon: Culture, Capital, and the Global Jungle. This project 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 annual opera festival. I also have several articles forthcoming or in progress: one that deals with Édouard Glissant's play about Toussaint L'Ouverture, another drawn from my second book project on opera in the Amazon, and two more on the Amazon and extinction.  

At Penn State, I coordinate the Hemispheric Americas lecture series in collaboration with my colleagues Judith Sierra Rivera and Krista Brune. My teaching includes graduate and undergraduate courses conducted in Portuguese, Spanish, and English. 


Graduate seminars:

  • Brazil and Comparative Modernisms (cross-listed with Comparative Literature)
  • Culture, Capital, and the Global Jungle
  • Missing Pieces: Latin American Theater and Performance
  • Latin American Modernisms and (Old) New Media
  • Race, Performance, and Possession (cross-listed with Comparative Literature)

 

Undergraduate Courses:

  • Avant-garde Primitivisms
  • Through the Looking Glass: Race in the United States and Brazil
  • The International Amazon 
  • Portuguese for Romance Language Speakers 
  • Mexi/Cali Noir
  • Media and the Mexican Revolution