Shirley Le Penne

Graduate Student


I am a Ph.D. candidate in Political Theory, Government, at Cornell University. I am interested in the politics of hope and despair, social movements, and the existential experiences of incarceration.

Research Focus

I conduct interdisciplinary research, fusing findings and insights from political theory, comparative politics, social psychology, and existential philosophy. I currently work on the politics of hope and despair amidst the Arab Spring in the Maghreb, and on the politics of death and suicide in the U.S. carceral system. Interested not merely in understanding existence but the very experience of it, my approach consists of a phenomenological leap into the human qualia: the subjective and intersubjective living experiences that make us who we are, privately and publicly. Reviving existentialism, philosophically and politically, I ask why and whether to live.