Debra A. Castillo is Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow, Emerson Hinchliff Professor of Hispanic Studies, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Cornell University. She is past president of the international Latin American Studies Association (2014-15).
In her research, she specializes in contemporary narrative from the Spanish-speaking world (including the United States), gender studies, cultural theory, and theater. She is the author, co-author, translator, or editor of a dozen books and around a hundred scholarly articles. Debra is frequently called on nationally and internationally for conference keynote addresses, invited lectures, and distinguished lecturer appointments in the US, Australia, Canada, Europe, Latin America (Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Puerto Rico, Perú, Costa Rica), India, and Taiwan.
She advises the Cornell Hispanic Theater group, Teatrotaller, which was founded in 1993 with the idea of promoting Spanish, Latin American and Latino cultures through theater. Teatrotaller has devoted itself to the production of plays in Spanish and "Spanglish" including classical, contemporary and experimental plays of Hispanic origin. These plays are presented to the community with a regular schedule of performances in April, August and November each year. The group has also performed in Bucharest, Romania; Jerusalem, Israel; Leige, Belgium; Puebla, San Cristobal, and Mexico City, Mexico; Quito, Ecuador; New York City; Boston; Toronto; Philadelphia; Syracuse; and Lawrence, Kansas. Teatrotaller holds a well-earned reputation for excellence in artistic performances. It has frequently been approached by playwrights from throughout the Spanish-speaking world with offers of plays, and has had the honor of producing several world-premier works.
She is an active member of the editorial boards of numerous journals, and is also past editor of Diacritics and current Senior Consulting Editor of the Latin American Literary Review. She is past president of the International Association of Hispanic Women’s Literature and Culture (AILCFH), has served on various academic press boards, and has participated in numerous national and international prize committees (Kovacs, Luce, Fulbright, Ford, NEH, etc). She has collaborated in a European research group on border poetics, and a Mexican research group on memory and citizenship. She is serving or has served on the MLA executive council, the delegate assembly organizing committee, the Language committee, and as a representative on the delegate assembly, several executive division committees, the Elections Committee, the Nominating Committee, the Publications Committee, and the radio committee.
She is the holder of a Stephen Weiss Fellowship, which is the university’s highest teaching award, and is granted for excellence in undergraduate teaching. She enjoys teaching the entire range of courses offered at the university, from first year writing courses to graduate seminars. She loves keeping in contact with her former students as they move into interesting and fulfilling professional lives, and facilitating contacts with other interesting thinkers from Latin America and beyond.