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Huddle with the Faculty: “Can Satire Save Democracy? The Story of Stephen Colbert”

Sophia McClennen, Professor of International Affairs and Comparative Literature

  • Huddle with the Faculty
Sept. 14, 2013, 9:00-10:00 a.m.
Where University Park, PA
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In the last two general elections, comedians have played a bigger and bigger role in influencing voter perceptions of political issues. Is the rise of satire good or bad for our democracy? Hear the story of Stephen Colbert and see what you think. His program, The Colbert Report, parodies personality-driven political shows like The O’Reilly Factor and reaches over one million viewers a night. With fake news and simulated punditry, accompanied by intense critique of the prejudice, hyperbole, and hysteria that can be found in both politics and media in the U.S., programs like Colbert’s offer audiences a way to combine entertainment with political reflection.

Sophia A. McClennen works on the intersections between culture, politics, and society. Her books focus on cultural responses to complex social change, such as the connections between the satire of Stephen Colbert and post-9/11 politics, or the exile writing of Ariel Dorfman and dictatorship in 1970s Latin America. Her work often analyzes the links between political events and their media representations, which has led her to critique the relationship between mainstream culture, political praxis, stereotypes, and social injustice. At Penn State, she teaches courses on human rights and world literature, culture and globalization, media studies, cultural trade policy, and critical theory.


The Village at Penn State LogoHuddle with the Faculty is presented by the Penn State Alumni Association and sponsored by The Village at Penn State with support from The Nittany Lion Inn and Penn State Press.

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