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Debra Ann Castillo

Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow, Emerson Hinchliff Professor of Hispanic Studies

Debra Ann Castillo

Klarman Hall, Room 315



Debra Castillo is Emerson Hinchliff Chair of Hispanic Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature,  former director of the Latin American Studies Program (two separate terms) and incoming director of the Latino/a Studies Program (beginning in January 2016). She is past president of the international, interdisciplinary Latin American Studies Association.

Among the courses she teaches regularly are Hispanic Theater Production (Teatrotaller), Cultures and Communities, and Bodies at the Border.   In 2016-17 she is directing the Mellon Diversity Seminar, focused on the theme: Scholars as Humans:  Enacting the Liberal Arts in Public

She is the holder of a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellowship, which is Cornell University’s highest teaching award, and is granted for excellence in undergraduate teaching. Perhaps the course with which she has been most identified is “Hispanic Theater Production.” has taught this course except when on leave for over 20 years, and coordinates summer productions as well on a volunteer basis.  Graduate and undergraduate students, as well as some community members participate. Under the troupe name “Teatrotaller,” two or three times a year the group chooses a play from a Spanish, Latin American, or US Latino/a writer in Spanish or Spanglish and brings it to full production (generally presented in August/September, November, and April). The group has achieved an international reputation for excellence, and has accepted invitations to present their plays in various regional universities (Tufts, Penn State, Barnard, Syracuse) as well as in festivals in Mexico, Canada, Israel, Ecuador, Romania and Belgium.  In 2016-17 Teatrotaller is collaborating with the Civic Ensemble on a fall “After Orlando” project, and in January-February will be presenting a new play on migration issues in Kolkata, India as well as in Ithaca.

She is deeply involved with community engagement projects and courses, especially in collaboration with the local organization, Cultura Ithaca.

The goal of this project is to share Latin American and U.S. Latino/a culture with community members of all ages through educational artistic activities. Debra is building on past successful collaborations reaching back to the mid 1990s, as she adds new programs to meet community member needs and student interests. These programs include collaboration with CULTURA! on our popular cuentacuentos (storyteller), antojitos (food), and buen vivir (living well) series; along with new programming initiatives like the year-long filmmaking workshop, "Bridging Stories" involving communities in Ithaca and Chile, which she did in collaboration with La Poderosa Media Project. She also organizes events for poetry month in April, and the annual 5 de mayo (Battle of Puebla) celebration.

She is the author, co-author, translator, or editor of more than a dozen books and nearly 150  scholarly articles. She specializes in contemporary narrative from the Spanish-speaking world (including the United States), gender studies, and cultural theory. Her books include The Translated World:  A Postmodern Tour of Libraries in Literature, Talking Back:  Strategies for a Latin American Feminist Literary Criticism, Easy Women:  Sex and Gender in Modern Mexican Fiction, and (cowritten with María Socorro Tabuenca Córdoba)  Border Women:  Writing from La Frontera. Her latest single-authored book is Re-dreaming America: Toward a Bilingual Understanding of American Literature.  Recent collaborative projects include Mexican Public Intellectuals (with Stuart Day), and Despite all Adversities:  Spanish American Queer Cinema (with Andrés Lema Hincapié) and Theorizing Fieldwork in the Humanities (with Shalini Puri, 2016).

More recently, she has been collaborating with colleagues in the area of South-South cultural studies, especially focusing on border studies in the hemispheric American context and partition studies in south Asia, represented in a recent co-edited volume with Comparative literature alum Kavita Panjabi (Cartographies of Affect: Across Borders in South Asia and the Americas, Worldview Press 2010) as well as another forthcoming book coedited with Kavita Panjabi and Debaroti Chakravorty, and her work with Anindita Banerjee, both in scholarly publications and co-taught courses.

She has also been very interested in exploring the new possibilities for knowledge exchange beyond the traditional print book. Her co-edited volume with Christine Henseler, Hybrid Storyspaces,

represents this strand of her work, and points toward the challenges and opportunities represented by the new media ecologies of the 21st century—something she is also vigorously exploring in her administrative and pedagogical roles, ranging from participation in  co-taught, live videostreamed courses with international participation, to her advocacy for new platforms for academic exchange.

She is an active member of the editorial boards of many journals, and is also Editor of the Latin American Literary Review, past editor of Diacritics, and the former Book Review editor for Letras Femeninas.  She is past president of the Asociación Internacional de Literatura y Cultura Femenina Hispánica, serves or has recently served on the boards of the Cornell University Press, the North Carolina Series in Romance Languages and Literatures, and the State University of New York Press (where she co-edits a series on Genders in the Global South). 

Debra is profoundly committed to mentoring at all levels, and is amply compensated through sustained dialogue with exciting young scholars. She has enjoyed the privilege of working closely with over one hundred graduate students (mostly PhD), and has been the chair or co-chair of a little over sixty graduate student committees.  While not everyone has chosen an academic career, most of her former students have ended up teaching and doing research in some combination.  Some of them are located in far-flung sites like Kolkata, Seoul, or Buenos Aires; most are in Spanish programs in the United States, including people at liberal arts colleges, state universities, and distinguished private research institutions.


  • Comparative Literature
  • Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program
  • Latina/o Studies Program

Graduate Fields

  • Comparative Literature
  • Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
  • Latin American Studies
  • Latino Studies
  • Peace Studies and Peace Science
  • Romance Studies
  • Theatre Arts


  • Contemporary narrative of the Americas
  • Gender Studies
  • culture studies
  • theater, film, performance
  • community engagement studies


Spring 2021



The Translated World:  A Postmodern Tour of Libraries in Literature.  Tallahassee:  Florida State UP, l984.

Talking Back:  Toward a Latin American Feminist Literary Criticism.  Ithaca:  Cornell UP, l992.

Trans. and Intro., Tijuana:  Stories on the Border by Federico Campbell.  Berkeley:  U of California P., l995.

Easy Women:  Sex and Gender in Modern Mexican Fiction.  Minneapolis:  U of Minnesota P., l998.

ed., with Mary Jo Dudley.  Transforming Cultures in the Americas. Ithaca:  Latin American Studies Program, 2000.

ed., with Mary Jo Dudley and Breny Mendoza.  Rethinking Feminisms in the Americas. Ithaca:  Latin American Studies Program, 2000.

ed., with José Edmundo Paz Soldán.  Beyond the Lettered City:  Latin American Literature and Mass Media. Hispanic Issues series.  Garland, 2000.

Border Women:  Writing from La Frontera (with María Socorro Tabuenca Córdoba) Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2002.

Re-dreaming America: Toward a Bilingual Understanding of American Literature. (Albany: SUNY, 2004.)

ed, with Kavita Panjabi.  Cartographies of Affect:  Across Borders in South Asia and the Americas. Kolkata: Worldview Press, 2011.

ed, with Christine Henseler.  Hybrid Storyspaces Companion version online as part of the Cornell Latin American Studies Program working paper series, 2010. Revised, peer reviewed English language Volume published at:  Hispanic Issues series: University of Minnesota, 2012.

ed, with Anindita Banerjee.  Gender, Violence, Dislocation. Cornell Latin American Studies Program working paper volume, 2011.

 co-editor with Stuart Day, Mexican Public Intellectuals.  Palgrave, 2013.

 co-editor with Andrés Lema Hincapié, Despite all Adversities: Spanish American Queer Cinema Latin America.  SUNY, 2015.

co-editor with Shalini Puri, Theorizing Fieldwork in the Humanities  Palgrave MacMillan 2016.

co-editor with Kavita Panjabi and Debaroti Chakravoty, Centering Borders Westview (in preparation)


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