Babel’s national frames in global Hollywood


Leisa Rothlisberger

Leisa Rothlisberger graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a PhD in Comparative Literature in August. She received a BA in Comparative Literature from Williams College in 2005. Her dissertation, “NAFTA Culture: Trade Policy and Cultural Exchange in the Global Era,” focuses on the mutual influence between the North American Free Trade Agreement and cultural products in the United States and Mexico. It compares non-mainstream and commercial media outlets as deliberate or unintended responses to NAFTA and other globalizing policies. The research is motivated to uncover the imbrications of international and economic agreements and the cultural products they influence—both directly because of policies and regulations and indirectly through creative responses to their effects. In general, Leisa’s work focuses on the power dynamics in the Americas, emphasizing the importance of considering the hemisphere together. To do so, she has been actively involved in the Penn State Americanists.

She has received travel grants, including an Early Career Development Award from Penn State’s Center for Global Studies, to conduct research in Chiapas and Baja California, Mexico, and at the Mexican National Archives in Mexico City. The ethical implications of her research have also been supported by the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State through a Humanities Initiative Dissertation Support Fellowship.

She has gained invaluable perspective on media in the United States and Mexico through her research travel. In Chiapas, she interviewed a director of Promedios, the Mexican arm of the Chiapas Media Project. In Baja California she toured Baja studios and interviewed film workers in the area, with help from the only degree-granting film school in Mexico: the Universidad de las Californias, whose director, René Castillo, keeps a relevant and interesting film blog on film-making in Tijuana.

In addition to studying the implications of the global film industry, Leisa is interested in other aspects of cultural studies. Her article, "NAFTA, Labor, and the Recovery Project” published in WorkingUSA, a journal on Labor and Society. She has also written a book review for Comparative Literature Studies.

You can contact Leisa at lrothlisberger@gmail.com.