Elvira L Vilches

Elvira L Vilches

Associate Professor of Romance Studies

External address: 218 Language Center, Box 90257, Durham, NC 27708
Internal address: Box 90257, Durham, NC 27713

My teaching and research interests include early modern Spanish and Colonial Latin American literature, the rise of capitalism, economic thought, and the making of practical knowledge. I study how 16th and 17th century thinkers, authors, and observers across the Spanish empire grappled with money, commerce, and economic challenges that resemble our own. My interest on the interface between literature, history, and economics led to the publication of New World Gold: Cultural Anxiety and Monetary Disorder in Early Modern Spain (The University of Chicago Press, 2010). In my articles explore the intersections between commerce, print culture, and silver; why and how literary authors wrote about money in any way, shape, or form; witnessing financial crisis in the 17th and 21st centuries; and colonial theories of value and exchange. I am currently working on a book manuscript, Doing Business: Commerce and Culture in Early Modern Spain, examining how accounting, borrowing, and investing became activities of everyday life across the cultural field in Spain and the Americas. Most recent undergrad and graduate courses look at the cultural history of chocolate and tobacco; early travel writing; women and the production of knowledge; the worlds of Cervantes; and the correlations between commercial culture and literature. 


  • Ph.D., Cornell University 1998

Vilches, E. L. “Witnessing Crisis in Contemporary and Golden Age Spain.” Connecting Past and Present Exploring the Influence of the Spanish Golden Age in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, edited by A. Khan, 2015, pp. 109–32. Open Access Copy

Vilches, E. L. “"The Economy of the Marvelous: Columbus's Transatlantic Tokens.".” Atlantic Studies New Perspectives Will Kaufman and Heidi Macpherson, edited by Will Kaufman and Heidi Macpherson, University Press of America, 2002, pp. 15–16. Open Access Copy

Vilches, E. L. ““Doing Things with Money in Early Modern Spain”.” A Companion to the Spanish Renaissance, Brill.

Vilches, Elvira. “Trade, Silver, and Print Culture in the Colonial Americas.” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, vol. 24, no. 3, Informa UK Limited, July 2015, pp. 315–34. Crossref, doi:10.1080/13569325.2015.1065796. Full Text Open Access Copy

Vilches, E. L. “Imperial Sissies and Bully Amazons: The Question of “Valor” in Lope de Vega’s Las mujeres sin los hombres.” Annals of Scholarship, vol. 16, no. 1–2, May 2005, pp. 175–91. Open Access Copy

Vilches, Elvira, M., and E. L. Vilches. “Columbus’s Gift: Representations of Grace and Wealth and the Enterprise of the Indies.” Modern Languages Notes, vol. 119, no. 2, 2004, pp. 201–25. Open Access Copy

Vilches, Elvira. “El Atlántico en la historiografía indiana del siglo XVI.” Revista Iberoamericana, vol. 75, no. 228, University Library System, University of Pittsburgh, pp. 639–55. Crossref, doi:10.5195/reviberoamer.2009.6600. Full Text