Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Cynthia A. Young

Cynthia A. Young

Cynthia A. Young

Associate Professor of African American Studies, English, and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
343 Willard Building
(814) 863-5532
Area(s) of Specialization: African American and African Diaspora History and Culture, Critical Race Theory, Digital Humanities/Media Studies, Education, Language and Literature, Politics and the Black Radical Tradition, Popular Culture, Sports and the Arts


Professor Young received her B.A. at Columbia University in English and her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University.

Professional Bio

Young is the author of Soul Power: Culture, Radicalism and the Making of a U.S. Third World Left (Duke UP), which looks at the influence of Third World anticolonialism on activists, writers and filmmakers of color in the 1960s and 1970s.  The project earned her fellowships from the Ford and Mellon Foundations.  She is the author of articles, reviews and short essays in several journals including American Quarterly, New Labor Forum, Dispositio/n, American Literature, Cinema Journal and the Journal of Visual Culture.  She also recently co-edited with Min Song a forum for American Quarterly entitled “Whiteness Redefined or Redux?”

Her current manuscript, Terror Wars-Culture Wars: Race, Popular Culture and the Civil Rights Legacy After 9/11 considers the contours of popular culture and contemporary discourse in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  Of particular interest are questions of black citizenship and immigrant exclusion.  She considers a range of texts in order to decipher how African Americans are being reinscribed as ideal citizens in contrast to new Asian, Arab and Latino/a immigrants who are positioned as inherently suspicious and inassimilable.  The project has been supported by a fellowship at Harvard University’s Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History.

Please contact Dr. Young directly for access to her CV.

Statement on Post-Election Climate:

Department of African American Studies statement on post-election climate

Our Post-election Position

As the Department of African American Studies, we feel it is imperative to respond to the wave of physical and verbal attacks since the November presidential election. To a degree not seen since 9/11, there has been a dramatic increase in violence against racial, ethnic and religious minorities, on LGBTQI people, as well as verbal and physical assaults on women of all backgrounds nationwide, including this campus.  While these incidents are unacceptable, they are not unfamiliar amid the ongoing persecution and murders of trans-people, particularly those of color, and the epidemic of sexual violence that still plagues us.  In keeping with African American Studies’ long history of advocacy for and research on marginalized communities, we stand resolutely opposed to any and all physical, verbal and cyber attacks on individuals or groups based on their race, religion, gender identity, sexuality, immigration status, or ability.

The Department of African American Studies is a resource for any student, regardless of his or her major or minor, who faces threats, intimidation, harassment, violence, or vulnerability.  In African American Studies, you will find an open door and an advocate.  Throughout our history, African American and African diasporic peoples have experienced discrimination, violence, and terror, but they have always been strengthened by the deep history of resistance to that oppression.  As the great freedom fighter Ella Baker told us, “Freedom is a constant struggle.” Our discipline’s history is rooted in the struggle against denigration, intimidation, harassment, and worse, and in the unconditional affirmation of black lives mattering. You are being heard, and you will continue to be heard.

If you are experiencing bias on this campus, please report it at:

Cynthia A. Young