Deborah Cohn earned her M.A. in Spanish literature from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1990. Upon graduation, she continued her education at Brown University where she earned her Ph.D. in Hispanic studies in 1996. She joined the Indiana University (IU) faculty in 2001 as an assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese. She was promoted to associate professor in 2004 and full professor in 2013. She served as the director of Graduate Studies within the College of Arts and Sciences from 2011 to 2014 and chairperson of the American Studies program from 2012 to 2015. Throughout her time at IU, she has held various adjunct professor roles within the College of Arts and Sciences and the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. She earned the additional, honorary title of Provost Professor of Spanish and Portuguese in 2020.
Cohn’s research interests span a wide breadth of fields, including Latin American studies, American studies, Cold War studies, and more. Her research has been published in an array of notable journals – some of which include Diplomatic History, Latin American Research Review, and American Literature. Her research has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities at Vanderbilt University, the Harry Ransom Center, IU, and more. At IU, Cohn has developed new courses on Latin and Caribbean literature and American literature.
Throughout her career, Cohn has been recognized with several awards and honors across disciplines. She earned the Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award, presented by Spanish and Portuguese students in 2011, and the Trustees Teaching Award in American Studies in 2012.
In 2020, Cohn received Indiana University's Bicentennial Medal, in recognition of her distinguished contributions and support of the university.