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 economics, science, and culture share a universe in the writing practices of Spanish Renaissance scholars and authors that shaped broader secular registers grappling with the new economic experiences of colonial wealth and global capitalism. My second book project looks at how mercantile technologies, business writing, and various segments of print culture naturalized capitalism by informing the production of economic knowledge as social practice. Recent publications explore shifting value systems in the Iberian Atlantic; money and public trust; the experiences of financial crisis past and present; as well as monetary practices and the spread of numeracy. She is the author of New World Gold: Monetary Disorders and Cultural Anxiety in Early Modern Spain (Chicago University Press, 2010; winner Choice List of Outstanding Books 2011). She has received various fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the John Carter Brown Library, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Most recent undergrad and graduate courses look at the cultural history of chocolate and tobacco; early travel writing and production of knowledge; Cervantes and the Ethics of Migration; the entanglements of culture and political economy;  and global humanities. 


  • Ph.D., Cornell University 1998

Fellowships, Supported Research, & Other Grants

Commerce and Mercantile Culture in Early Modern Spain awarded by Fellowship American Council of Learned Societies (2013 to 2014)

Commerce and Mercantile Culture in Early Modern Spain awarded by John Carter Brown Library, National Endowment for the Humanities (2013 to 2014)

Center for New World Comparative Studies awarded by John Carter Brown Library, Brown University (2003)

Library of Congress Fellowship in International Studies awarded by American Council of Learned Societies (2002 to 2003)

Center for Twentieth Century Studies awarded by University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (2001 to 2002)

Vilches, Elvira. “Figures of Arithmetic: Numeracy, Calculation, and Accounting in the Comedia.” Science on Stage in Early Modern Spain, edited by Enrique García Santo-Tomás, University of Toronto Press, 2019, pp. 179–209.

Vilches, Elvira. “Doing Things with Money in Early Modern Spain.” A Companion to the Spanish Renaissance, edited by Hilaire Kallendorf, Brill, 2019, pp. 508–508.

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.

Contributors.” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, vol. 19, no. 2, Project Muse, 2019, pp. 159–61. Crossref, doi:10.1353/jem.2019.0025. Full Text

Vilches, Elvira. “Business Tools and Outlooks: The Culture of Calculation in the Iberian Atlantic.” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, vol. 19, no. 2, Project Muse, 2019, pp. 16–51. Crossref, doi:10.1353/jem.2019.0018. Full Text Open Access Copy

Vilches, Elvira L. “Domus: Ficción y mundo doméstico en el Barroco español.” Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, vol. 17, no. 2, Informa UK Limited, Apr. 2016, pp. 201–03. Crossref, doi:10.1080/14636204.2016.1166574. Full Text

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. “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