Modern & Classical Languages

Jelena Sanchez

Associate Professor of Spanish, Chairperson, Cultural Events Committee


+1 630 637 5275

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Jelena Sánchez, joined the Modern & Classical Languages Department in 2007. She received her PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She teaches a wide range of language, literature, culture, history, and gender courses. She is highly involved in multidisciplinary, mentorship, and community programs. She serves as Chair for Cultural Affairs and is a member of the President’s Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Jelena is deeply involved as a student mentor and advisor for the Spanish organizations: Fusión Española and La Malinche. She encourages her students to think critically and challenge their assumptions about Hispanic cultures, identity, and the world. Born in Madrid, Jelena's May Term course to Spain is one of the top-rated two-week study-abroad experiences at North Central College. Community engaged learning, volunteerism, and entrepreneurship inspire how she builds course curriculum. As an aficionado of flamenco music and dance, she organizes the annual Flamenco Festival showcasing esteemed flamenco artists from Chicago. Jelena participates in international conferences hosted by the Renaissance Society of America, Association of Hispanic Theatre, and Grupo de estudios sobre la mujer en España y Las Américas (pre-1800). She has published on the representation of sex, sexuality, gender, maternity, dowry and guardianship systems, inheritance, legal documents, and exploration in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Her work includes “Illness and Pregnancy: Female Agency in Lope de Vega’s El acero de Madrid," "Mothers in Early Modern Spanish Theatre," "Drafting Legal Documents: Isabel Barreto, the First Admiral of the Sea in European History," and "La Tramoyera: A New Role for Women in the Golden Age Comedia de Capa y Espada." She has contributed to edited volumes and is co-Subject Editor in the areas of Spain and Portugal and serves on the Advisory Board for Routledge’s Renaissance World Online Resources. 

Selected Scholarship

Published Work

“The Ring, Or, Merry Wives of Madrid.” Critical Entry in The Cambridge Guide to the Eighteenth-Century Novel, 1660-1820, Ed. April London. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2018.  

“Fearless Womanhood” in Today’s Inspired Latina. Life Stories of Success in the Face of Adversity. Volume IV. Ed. Jackie Camacho-Ruiz. Fig Factor Media, LLC. 2018. 

“Greensickness, Melancholy, and Pregnancy as Strategies for Female Agency in Lope de Vega’s El acero de Madrid.” Volume in honor of Anne J. Cruz, Women’s Lives and Works in Early Modern Iberia and the New World: Law, Society, Art, and Literature. Eds. María Cristina Quintero and Adrienne Martin. New York: Escribana Books, 2015. 

Conference Talks

"The Many Lives of Isabel Barreto: Admiral, Governor, and Merchant". The Sixteenth Biennial Symposium of GEMELA in Valencia, Spain. October 6-7, 2022. 

“Mothers in Early Modern Spanish Theatre.” Panel: Double Identities. 38th Annual AHCT Symposium on Golden Age Theatre, titled The Comedia Between Two Worlds/ La comedia entre dos mundos. AHCT in Almagro, Spain. July 4-7th, 2022.  

“Drafting Legal Documents: Isabel Barreto, the First Admiral of the Sea in European History.” SAMLA 92nd Virtual Conference. November 13-15th, 2020.  

“Who’s Holding All the Cards?: High Stakes Marriage in Lope de Vega’s Mujeres y criados.” GEMELA/Renaissance Society of America Conference. Boston, March 31-April 2, 2016. 

“Illness and Pregnancy: Female Agency in Lope de Vega’s El acero de Madrid." University of Miami. An Academic Conference “Revisioning Early Modern Hispanisms” in honor of Prof. Anne J. Cruz. Miami, Florida. February 19-21, 2015.

“Female Empowerment: Devotion and Propriety in Lope de Vega’s Marta la piadosa.” GEMELA/Renaissance Society of America Conference. New York City, March 26-29, 2014.

“La opilación, la melancolía y el embarazo como estrategias de la agencia femenina en las comedias de capa y espada.” III Congreso Internacional Jovenes Investigadores Siglo de Oro (JISO 2013), Pamplona, Universidad de Navarra, Spain, July 31 – Aug.1, 2013.

“Spanish Iconography in Flamenco Films.” Flamenco Interdisciplinary Conference. Flamenco Festival. North Central College. Naperville, IL. Feb., 2013.

Courses Taught

All Levels of beginning through advanced Spanish language

SPAN 310: Composition & Conversation II (Intro to Literary Analysis)

SPAN 327: Civilization and Culture of Spain

SPAN 390: Spanish Golden Age Theatre

SPAN 490: Women in Spanish Golden Age Theatre & Society

IDS 125: Graphic Novel and Visual Culture

GWS 100: Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

LANG 390: Dismantling Spanish Myths. The Black Legend

HPST 365 Hispanophone Culture II

CARD 361 Green Spain. A Treasured Past. A Sustainable Future