Elvira Vilches

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
North Carolina State University
Box 8106 * Raleigh, NC27695-8106
Phone: 919-515-0000 * Fax: 919-515-6981



Battista Agnase, Map of the World, 1540 (c) John Carter Brown Library
This world map isincluded in a manuscript atlas that the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V comissioned as a gift to his son, the future King Philip II of Spain. The decoration on the maps in this atlas is some of the most refined and beautiful of all the surviving examples of Agnese’s work. On this world map from the atlas, Magellan’s track is traced in black, and the route of the Spanish silver fleet is shown in gold. 






FLS 300-02, 300-03,

Syllabi and other course information is available to registered students through Vista

Office hours: T/TH 11.00-12.00 and by appointment


I am the undergraduate mentor for all the Spanish majors whose last names begin with the letters R-S.  Please come to see me if you would like to discuss FLS courses, how to improve your language proficiency, research skills, post-graduation plans, study abroad, or any other questions you may have to help ensure your success as a Spanish major. 



I teach grad and undergraduate seminars on Don Quixote, classical theater, the Age of Discovery, and surveys on the early modern period, culture and civilization, as well as introduction to Hispanic literature and other undergradute courses.

My book, Haunted by the Indies: Gold, Money, and the Quest for Value in Early Modern Hispanic culture (forthcoming from University of Chicago Press), examines the conceptual quandaries, monetary puzzles, and cultural disturbances that followed American gold from the Indies to Spain in the sixteenth century.  An introductory chapter reviews the economic and cultural background to familiarize the reader with the ways that American bullion tested prevailing notions of money and value.  Then my argument proceeds in two sections that correspond to the quest for gold and the disruptions that American treasure caused in the culture and economy of Castile.  I discuss a diversity of sources that include American chronicles, economic and political tracts, moralizing discourse, and literary discourse reflecting on the Indies.  This corpus illustrates that American gold broke the stable relationship between money and value and triggered a pervasive anxiety about the elusive nature of value.  The literary landscape that I explore juxtaposes Menos precio de corte y alabanza de aldea and the Crotalón with both the Indiano and Amazon plays by Lope de Vega and Tirso de Molina, Lope’s La Dorotea, and the moral poetry of Bartolomé de Argensola and Quevedo.  My interdisciplinary approach calls attention to the imbrications that emerge in economics, the history of the Spanish empire, and Golden Age literature. 

The research for this project has been funded by the American Council of Learned Societies fellowship in International Studies and the John Carter Brown Library fellowship in New World Comparative Studies. 

I have published articles on gift exchange and the representation of value in Columbus's writings; masculinity at risk and econimic crisis in Lope de Vega; Atlantic crossings in early New World Historiography; and sixteenth-century Spanish economic writing.  Work in progress includes articles on Lope de Vega's La Dorotea and Gracián's Criticón, as well as a book project about the production of the Atlantic Space in early modern Hispanic culture. 

I have been an invited speaker at Harvard University, The John W. Kluge Center, Duke University, the University of Michigan, and Standfor University. 


(c) Rhymes with Orange