Jennifer McClearen

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PIP Fellow

B.A. Political Science and French, Union University
M.A. Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management, SIT Graduate Institute
M.A. Communication, University of Washington
Ph.D. Candidate, Communication, University of Washington

Office: HH1416
Mailing: Box 358530, 18115 Campus Way NE, Bothell, WA 98011-8246


My courses focus on understanding the complex relationships among media, culture, and society and draw upon the intellectual lineages of cultural studies, American and ethnic studies, and feminist studies. I aim to give students the analytical tools to critically examine how power, privilege, and difference operate in popular and contemporary media. I also endeavor to give students practical skills in new media technologies that allow them to challenge dominant media discourses. 

My teaching philosophy centers on the premise that students are not merely knowledge receptors, but they are knowledge creators. It is my role to provide the intellectual and analytical resources for students to build their understanding of course content. I believe students learn best when they are actively engaged in the classroom, when content is relevant to their lives, and when they are allowed to draw on their own ideas, experiences, and opinions to generate knowledge. To implement this philosophy, I employ multimodal, experiential, and inclusive teaching methods.

Recent Courses Taught

BIS 235 Critical Media Literacy [Fall 2015; Spring 2016)
BISMAS 369 American Culture & Mass Media (Winter 2016)


My research interrogates the cultural production, representation, and reception of the active body in popular media. In particular, I leverage feminist media studies and physical cultural studies to critically analyze the intersecting discourses of gender, race, class, nationality, and/or sexuality surrounding the physicality of female athletes, fighters, action heroes, etc. I critically probe the changing perspectives on women’s active bodies in 21st-century America in an attempt to challenge a status quo that marginalizes women in physical culture.

My dissertation, Converging Media and Divergent Bodies: Articulations of Powerful Women in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), examines the ways that the mixed-martial arts media giant and fight promoter negotiates representations of powerful women’s bodies within a converging media climate. The guiding questions for this project are deeply invested in the mediation of the body, femininities, difference (gender, race, sexuality, class, nationality, etc.), and physical power. My overarching questions include: What are the production logics that enable the visibility of women in a sport they were recently excluded from? How do the sights, sounds, and performances that layer converging UFC media illuminate competing discourses of femininities, difference, and the body? Finally, who is included and excluded from participating in this emerging space of representation and why? Converging Media and Divergent Bodies collectively weaves insights from the production, representation, and reception of UFC media and illuminates the struggles remaining for women’s physical participation in culture even amidst the compelling changes heralded by their inclusion in the UFC.

Selected Publications

McClearen, J. (forthcoming). “Unbelievable Bodies: Audience Readings of Action Heroines as Post-Feminist Visual Metaphor.” Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies.

McClearen, J. (accepted). “The Paradox of Fallon’s Fight: The Interlocking Discourses of Sexism and Cissexism in Mixed-Martial Arts Fighting.” Special Issue on Sexism, edited by Sara Ahmed. New Formations: A Journal of Culture, Theory, and Politics.

McClearen, J. (2015). “Gladiator in a Suit? Scandal’s Olivia Pope and the Post-Identity Regulation of Physical Agency.” In Kumarini Silva and Kaitlyn Mendes (eds.) Feminist Erasures: Challenging Backlash Culture. Palgrave Macmillan.