March 14, 2008

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LEWISBURG, Pa. — Debra Castillo will give the talk, "American Visa Dreams," on Thursday, March 27, at 7 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell University. Castillo will discuss immigration issues represented in film as well as literature, and will show film clips as part of her talk.

The talk, which is free to the public, is part of the university's International Focus Year Series on Latin America and the Caribbean. It is sponsored by the Office of the Provost.

Castillo says of her talk, "I will focus on a small sample of films from former Spanish colonies now under the U.S. sphere of influence, including movies from Mexico ('Espaldas mojadas'), Bolivia ('American Visa'), Colombia ('Visa U.S.A.'), Dominican Republic ('Nueba Yol'), and Philippines ('La visa loca').  

"In each of the films I will be referencing, the difficulty of obtaining a U.S. visa serves as an important device for setting the plot in motion. At the same time, the encounter with U.S. officialdom also creates the first noteworthy meeting of the protagonist with U.S. people and culture, and while the exchange between the two individuals is always formulaic, it is also nontrivial, as it highlights significant performances of identity on both parts."

Cornell University professor

Castillo is professor of comparative literature at Cornell University, where she also serves as the Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow and Emerson Hinchliff Professor of Hispanic Studies. She specializes in contemporary narrative from the Spanish-speaking world, including the United States, gender studies and cultural theory.

She is the author of several books including 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 Border Women: Writing from La Frontera.

Her most recent book is Re-dreaming America: Toward a Bilingual American Culture.

Castillo also is the translator of Federico Campbell's Tijuana: Stories on the Border, and co-editor of various volumes of essays.

Focus on Latin America, the Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean have been undergoing a profound transformation since the early 1980s, according to series organizers Stephen Stamos and Hilbourne Watson, faculty coordinators.

By the early 1990s, in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a growing emphasis on democratization and the enhancement of constitutional democracy across the region. The speakers in the series will contribute their perspectives to the transition.

The final speaker in this year's series is Douglas Massey, who will discuss Mexican immigration on April 10.

Bucknell's Focus Semester program, which began in 1990, is designed to provide undergraduates with exposure to international geographic and cultural themes. The series originally began with a geographic focus – Africa, Latin America, Russia and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and even outer space. The Focus Semester series grew to a year-long series in 2003 to allow a more comprehensive experience. For more information on past Focus Year series, visit

Contact: Office of Communications

Posted March 14, 2008

Updated March 24, 2008