My current work focuses on how chocolate became the first fully transatlantic food—that is to say, accepted, modified, and incorporated into daily life on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean—and how it morphed from a symbol of Otherness into one of luxury for the nobility of Spain. This manuscript length work will incorporate religious treatises, colonial chronicles, cook books, and literature from the Spanish Empire’s Golden Age (1500-1800), in order to show the vast array of opinions and theories that surrounded this enchanting new commodity.
I am also pursuing projects that incorporate students into the research process. In the summer of 2015 I taught a “MAP” (Mentored Advanced Project) at Grinnell College. Working with two undergraduate students, we used the software package NVivo to analyze “La fuerza de la sangre” by Miguel de Cervantes and “La fuerza del amor” by María de Zayas. The software allows us to step back from any preconceived notions by providing raw data such as word frequency metrics and visualizations in the forms of word clouds and trees. The results of this project are currently under review for publication as a co-authored article. We have also presented our findings as a round table at an international conference in Summer 2016. I will be attending the CUR: Creative Inquiry in the Arts and Humanities Institute Workshop in November 2016 to learn new techniques for incorporating undergraduates into research projects.
A recently published article, “‘Sois de diablos:’ Portraying Indigenous Female Characters on the Golden Age Stage,” discusses three theoretical approaches to one of the most neglected groups of the time: indigenous women. Indigenous women were, as historical figures, mostly erased from the record. The three potential theoretical approaches to the characterization of the indigenous woman in Early Modern Spanish theatre I am proposing are: the “Other as Other,” the “Other as Same,” and the “Double Other”. The section on “Other as Other” looks at the ways in which female indigenous characters were portrayed as in oppositional and exotic roles; “Other as Same” discusses the portrayal of indigenous women as so similar to Spanish women as to be indistinguishable, and the “Double Other” analyzes characters that were given traits that belonged to women on both sides of the Atlantic. All three of these were used strategically by the playwrights to critique not only the conquest, but also Spanish society and members of the ruling class on both sides of the Atlantic. This article was published in the Bulletin of the Comediantes 67.2.