Release Date: June 21, 2016
BUFFALO, N.Y. – David Castillo, a University at Buffalo professor of Romance languages and literatures, has been named director of the university’s Humanities Institute, a multidisciplinary center within the College of Arts and Sciences established in 2005 to promote innovative teaching, research and programs in the humanities.
A search committee comprised of tenured members from HI’s executive committee chose Castillo from a pool of highly qualified applicants. The committee’s selection was approved by Bruce Pitman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
“David is a well-respected scholar and an experienced administrator,” said Pitman. “He will bring new and vibrant collaborations to the Humanities Institute and I look forward to seeing continued growth of the HI under his leadership.”
Castillo’s appointment is effective July 1. He will serve a three-year term as HI director. Castillo succeeds Erik Seeman, who held the position since 2011.
“In just over a decade, the Humanities Institute has become a local and, indeed, regional hub for interdisciplinary conversations, innovative research and community engagement,” said Castillo. “As incoming director, I am humbled and honored for the opportunity to contribute to HI’s legacy of intellectual collaboration and community building.”
Castillo is an expert in the Spanish Baroque, the origins of mass-culture, the roots of modern fantasy and horror in the early modern period, and the rise of zombie culture. He is a former chair of the Department of Romances Languages and Literatures, a UB “Scholar on the Road” and a frequent media contributor to outlets that include The New York Times, Voice of America and NRP.
He is the author of “Baroque Horrors: Roots of the Fantastic in the Age of Curiosities;” “Awry Views: Anamorphosis, Cervantes and the Early Picaresque;” and co-author of “Zombie Talk: Culture, History, Politics” with David Schmid, David A. Reilly and John Edgar Browning.
His forthcoming book with William Egginton, “Medialogies: Reading Reality in the Age of Inflationary Media,” is a groundbreaking examination and reconsideration of reality in the age of new media that combines cultural and political theory with novels, motion pictures and other mass media.
“It’s David’s broader scholarly agenda that made him such an attractive candidate for the search committee,” said Libby Otto, associate professor of modern and contemporary art history and executive director of the Humanities Institute. “He sees the humanities as offering a range of critical approaches that are essential for coming to grips with today’s world and as indispensable analytical and problem-solving tools for our students.”
In his new role, Castillo will oversee the institute’s wide-ranging programs, workshops, lecture series and fellowships.
“I am thankful to my predecessors, especially outgoing director Erik Seeman, whose signature initiative, the annual UB Humanities Festival, brings scholars, artists, community leaders and the general public together to explore, share and examine ideas from a variety of contexts and perspectives in family-welcoming events,” he said.
In addition to the annual festival now held each September, the institute experienced considerable growth under Seeman’s leadership, adding a faculty conference fund, seed money awards for faculty funded by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, an external grant-writing workshop, and public humanities fellowships for graduate students funded by the New York State Council for the Humanities.
“I’m delighted that David will be the Humanities Institute’s next director,” said Seeman. “He will undoubtedly be a terrific leader.”