Dr. María del Carmen Sillato joined the UW academic community in July 1992. She retired in October 2017.
Dr. Sillato was a dedicated and celebrated researcher through her years at UW and is still very active in her research activities. Dr. Sillato’s main areas of research are the poetry of the universally acclaimed Argentinean poet Juan Gelman, testimonial literature as a literary genre, and creative writing in processes of healing in relation to trauma. These three have each culminated in major publications: a critical monograph entitled Juan Gelman: Las estrategias de la otredad. Heteronimia, intertextualidad, traducción (1996), which received the 1997 Best Book Award from the Canadian Association of Hispanists; a creative literary testimony of her own experiences as a political prisoner, Diálogos de amor contra el silencio, Memorias de prisión, sueños de libertad (2006), also recognized with the First Prize in the Literary Competition Year 2000: The Historical Memory of Latin American and Caribbean Women; and an anthology of collected writings by individuals who were victims of political oppression in Argentina, Huellas. Memorias de Resistencia (Argentina 1974-1983)(2008), translated into English as Traces: Memories of resistance (Argentina 1974-1983), and published in 2013.
These publications were accompanied by a steady series of scholarly articles directed toward the international academic community, as well as many other publications intended to reach a broader general audience affected by and interested in these critical human issues. In addition to publishing widely, Dr. Sillato has been a regular speaker at national and international scholarly conferences, and has also frequently been invited as a guest speaker.
Dr. Sillato’s passion also made an impact in the classroom. As an important contribution in the area of teaching, Dr. Sillato developed and directed the Spanish/English Translation Plan. She served as the plan’s Director from 2003 to 2016. As part of the Translation Plan she also developed a study abroad program with the University of Holguín in Cuba, and created a liaison between the Department of Spanish and World Accord, a humanitarian organization based in Waterloo. Students have had the unique opportunity to work on translations and at the same time come to know the humanitarian work that this organization does in Latin America.
Dr. Sillato felt it essential to find ways to foster a connection between her students and the outside world, inviting to her classes well-known poets, literary critics, and members of the Hispanic community. An important contribution to the department’s many course offerings was the creation of a course on Latin American testimonial literature which allowed Dr. Sillato to share with her students her research expertise in this field and at the same time to instil in them a deep interest in the value of freedom, social justice and democracy.
Dr. Sillato was the Chair of the Department from 2005 to 2011. As member of the Hispanic community, she served as the President of the Canadian Association of Hispanists, and the President of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, Ontario Chapter.
On two occasions (2007 and 2010) Dr. Sillato was awarded the UW Outstanding Performance Award.