Team Page - Diversifying the Classics
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Project Team
Barbara Fuchs

Trained as a comparatist (English, Spanish, French, Italian), Prof. Fuchs works on European cultural production from the late fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries, with a special emphasis on literature and empire. She directs the UCLA Working Group on the Comedia in Translation and Performance

Javier Patiño Loira

Javier Patiño Loira is an Assistant Professor in the Spanish and Portuguese Department at UCLA, and has been part of the Comedia in Translation group since September 2014. Javier’s research takes place at the crossroads between literature and the history of science in early modern Spain and Italy. He has also published articles and book chapters on the formation of libraries, education, and translation. Javier’s first book, The Age of Subtlety: Nature and Rhetorical Conceits in Early Modern Europe, is forthcoming in 2024 from the University of Delaware Press.

Marta Albalá Pelegrín

Marta Albalá Pelegrín is an Associate Professor at Cal Poly Pomona. She coordinates Radio Comedia, Diversifying the Classics’ Podcast Initiative, and has been part of the Comedia in Translation group since September 2014. Her research focuses on Late Medieval and Early Modern Iberian and Italian literature, and Theater and Diplomacy in the context of the Mediterranean World, Africa, and Southeast Asia. She is co-translating the play The Lieutenant Nun with Edward M. Test (under contract by Routledge) and working on a monograph entitled
Theater of Conquest: Performing Iberian News in Rome (1450-1530).

Elisabeth Le Guin

Elisabeth Le Guin is a performer and musicologist whose dual allegiances manifest as a series of dialogues, in tones and words, between theory and practice. As a Baroque cellist, she was a founding member of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and the Artaria String Quartet, and appeared in over 40 recordings; she continues to perform and record, while aspiring ever more earnestly to the condition of an amateur. In more recent years she has become involved in the movimiento jaranero, a transnational grassroots musical activism in Mexico and Mexican immigrant communities in the USA.

Rhonda Sharrah

Rhonda Sharrah is a Ph.D. student in the Department of English at UCLA studying book history, translation, and travel literature in the early modern period. She has been a member of the UCLA Working Group on the Comedia in Translation and Performance since Winter 2018. Her other research interests include vernacularity, romances, and networks of intercultural exchange in the medieval and early modern Mediterranean.

Robin Kello

Robin Kello is a Ph.D. student in the Department of English. He received his B.A. in sociology from New York University and his M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Robin received his Ph.D. in English at UCLA and is faculty in the Department of English at Seton Hall University. He has studied and worked as a teacher in Granada, Barcelona, and Madrid. Robin’s research involves transnational relations of texts, cultures, and ecologies in the early modern period, with a specific emphasis on Anglo-Spanish connections.

Laura Muñoz

Laura Muñoz is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UCLA. Her primary research interests include examining the theatrical production of early modern Valencian playwright Guillén de Castro. She has been an active member of the UCLA Working Group, The Comedia in Translation and Performance since Winter 2014. She is currently finalizing a co-translation of Guillén de Castro’s Los mal casados de Valencia along with Veronica Wilson, as well as working with About…Productions on the development of high school curriculum for La fuerza de la costumbre.

Aina Soley

Aina Soley is a graduate student in the Spanish and Portuguese Department. She received her B.A. in Journalism and Humanities at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. She is interested in the transnationality of cultures reflected in texts and how this influences their interpretation. 

Dandi Meng

Dandi Meng is a Ph.D. candidate in the English department at UCLA. She received her BA in English Literature from the University of Washington in 2015. She studies contemporary American experimental writing, and is writing a dissertation about race and abstraction. Dandi has been a part of Diversifying the Classics since 2021.

Samantha Solis

Samantha Solis is a graduate student in the UCLA English Department. They work on contemporary American and Latinx literature.

Brenda Saraí Jaramillo

Brenda Saraí Jaramillo is a Ph.D. student in the department of Spanish and Portuguese at UCLA. Saraí’s academic interests include queer maternity, pregnancy, and embodiment in Latin American and Latinx literature. She is also interested in gender and sexuality studies, translation theory and practice, narratives of migration, and comparative Latinidad. Prior to arriving at UCLA, she received a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Brown University, where she graduated with departmental honors.

Rachel Kaufman

Rachel Kaufman is a poet, historian, and teacher. Her work explores diasporic memory, transmission, and female religious ritual, and her dissertation focuses on the Mexican Inquisition and cross-ethnic networks of female religious ritual. Her first poetry book, Many to Remember (Dos Madres Press, 2021) enters the archive’s unconscious to unravel the history of the Mexican Inquisition alongside the poet’s own family histories. Her work has appeared on and in the Harvard Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Rethinking History, The Yale Historical Review, Diagram, and Comedia Performance: Journal of the Association for Hispanic Classical Theater. She was a 2023 Helene Wurlitzer poet-in-residence.

Victoria Rasbridge

Victoria Rasbridge is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish at University College London. Prior to this, Victoria received her B.A. and M.St. in Modern Language from Oxford University. Her research explores questions of gender, identity, and performance of early modern Spanish theatre and, focusing specifically on little-known comedias, advocates for a diversification of the canon. Victoria also works at the National Theatre Archives (UK) on numerous school outreach projects and is an academic advisor on the Our New Gold festival.

Sofía Yazpik

Sofía Yazpik is a PhD student in the Department of History at UCLA. Her current research focuses on early colonial judicial records in central Mexico and their circulation into Iberia and beyond. She is interested in indigenous productions of knowledge from the 16th to 18th centuries, the relationship between pictorial and alphabetic writing systems, and early modern collecting practices. Before coming to UCLA, she received her B.A. in art history from the University of Texas at Austin.

Galo Lopez

Amed Galo Lopez is a Ph.D. student in the department of History at UCLA. Galo’s research focuses on transnational prisons and inmate experiences in Africa, Europe, Latin America, the United States, and other parts of the world. The majority of his research explores the role of “Freedom Papers,” a term he defines as the prisoner’s form of writing and expression that unlocks their spatial entitlement of communication, awareness, and individuality within the prison system. In his spare time, he leads a Cub Scout pack at Homeboy Industries, is involved in the Kidney Core health program at UCLA, and is a musician for various bands.

Esther Claudio

Esther Claudio is a Postdoctoral Fellow for the “Racial Reckoning through Comics” Mellon-Sawyer Seminar at the University of Iowa. She holds a Ph.D. in Hispanic Literatures from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research studied the public articulation of trauma in Spanish graphic novels and her interests include gender studies, critical race theory, urban studies and visual culture. She co-founded the, one of the leading open access comics journals, and the Hispanic Comics Studies Collective. She co-edited On the Edge of the Panel: Essays on Comics Criticism (2015), and she is part of the editorial board of Studies in Comics and CuCo: Cuadernos de Comics. She features in the PBS 2023 Emmy-nominated Love & Rockets: The Great American Comic Book documentary and she is proud to have written the Foreword for the English version of Ana Penyas’s We’re All Fine, published by Fantagraphics (2023). When she’s not entangled with academic work, she enjoys the company of her friends, volleyball, drawing, memes and volunteering at the dogs shelter.

Isaac Giménez

Isaac Giménez is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Spanish and Portuguese Department at UCLA. He earned his Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures from the same university, where he specialized in Latin American studies, with a particular focus on Afro-Luso-Brazilian literature. His research interests, both academic and artistic, include performance poetry and visual studies; recycling poetics and readership; and the intersections between corporality, authorship, and intermitotic translations. With a degree in translation and interpreting studies, Isaac has professional experience in legal, audiovisual, and technical translation. Currently, he participates in the Working Group on the Comedia in Translation and Performance and also collaborates with Al Otro Ladoa non-profit which provides legal and humanitarian support to refugees, deportees, and other migrants in the US and Tijuana

Past Collaborators
Verónica García

Verónica Garcia is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. She’s interested in Orientalisms, the myth of al-Andalus and its relevance in the formation of the Spanish identity, from the liberal exiles in the XIXth century until the Andalusian and Catalan nationalisms in the XXth. She also collaborated on the translation for La noche Toledana.

Brenda Banda

Brenda Banda, Theatre Teaching Artist: is an actor, director, playwright, acting coach and Spanish/English tutor from South Central, Los Angeles whose career spans over 20 years. She has studied with a number of theatre companies including Steppenwolf West, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Ruskin School of Acting in Santa Monica, CA. Currently, she is a teaching artist with P.S. Arts where she teaches in their in-school and after school programs. She also teaches at 24th Street Theatre (Enter Stage Right and After ‘Cool), and The Bridge Project. Other contracts have included ENACT (an in-school Art Therapy Theatre Program at Miramar H.S. 2016), The Red Balloon Project and ImagineUsFree at Bresee Foundation. She is the co-founder of Urban Theatre Movement (UTM) and served as the company’s first Artistic Director in 2010. Brenda was a key collaborator in the elementary school curriculum development for Diversifying the Classics. Her hands-on experience in the classroom bridged the gap between theory and practice.

Juan Jesús Payán Martín

Dr. Juan Jesús Payán is an Assistant Professor of Spanish in Lehman College, CUNY. He holds two doctoral degrees, the first in Hispanic Languages and Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the second in Hispanic Philology from the University of Cádiz, Spain. Dr. Payán works on 19th- and 20th-fantastic literature and aesthetic discourses that contend realistic representation in the arts and the literary canon. As a second line of research, he has worked on contemporary poetry and music. Along with articles in prestigious journals such as Hispanic Review, he has published three books:Entre las dos orillas: Lírica hispánica en RevistAtlántica de Poesía, 2004; Vida y obra del músico gaditano Antonio Escobar Perera, 2006; and El mundo dividido de Wáshington Delgado (1950-1970),2012. Before joining the Department of Languages and Literatures at Lehman College, he was a a Lecturer at UCLA and a Visiting Assistant Professor at Manchester University. He currently teaches post-18th century Spanish literature from both sides of the Atlantic and language courses.

Kathryn Renton

Kathryn Renton received her PhD in Modern European History from the UCLA Department of History. Her research interests include the intersection of animal and environmental studies in early modern empire. Her dissertation investigates the ideals and representations of horse breeding and horsemanship in Spain and the Iberian Atlantic World in the late sixteenth century.

Veronica Wilson

Veronica has been part of the Comedia in Translation working group since its inception and leads the Community and Practitioner Outreach Committee. Her interest in Spanish Golden Age literature started as an undergraduate at UC San Diego, where she learned about human agency within the confines of 17th-Century Spain’s social structures.

Paul Cella

Paul Cella began collaborating with the working group in January 2014. Though his primary area of research is contemporary Spanish intellectual history, he enjoys the chance to work with early modern texts and ideas, which are basic for his study of more recent cultural phenomena. Paul wrote his dissertation on republican political thought in Spain since the end of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.

Adrián Collado

Adrián Collado earned his PhD from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UCLA in 2019. Adrián wrote his dissertation on the representation of migration in contemporary Spanish literature and film. He began working with the UCLA Working Group, “The Comedia in Translation and Performance” in Winter 2015. He has worked on the translation and introduction of La noche Toledana and on the translation of Los empeños de un engaño.

Jennifer L. Monti

Jennifer L. Monti earned her PhD from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UCLA in 2019 and began collaborating with the working group, ‘The Comedia in Translation and Performance,” in Fall 2014. She is interested in Iberian Literature of the XIX and XX century, with a focus on female writers and artists. In particular, her research centers around Catalan feminine literature and art of the XX century, as well as on the past and ongoing relationship between Spain and Cuba.

Chelsey Smith

I am interested in social justice, and especially Mexican street performance as a medium of protest and memory. During my MA, my research centered around street performance and its digital representation in reaction to the forced disappearance in Ayotzinapa. The injustices uncovered in this research have inspired me to take a more feminist approach in my doctoral work, where I look forward to working with feminist performances, with a particular interest with reaction to femicides. I am also looking to explore similar areas in the Chican@ realm, along with branching further into Digital Humanities and affect theory.

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren earned her PhD in Hispanic Languages and Literatures at UCLA (2018), and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University of Utah. Her research interests include contemporary Peninsular cultural studies, post-Franco Spanish politics, national identities, and historical memory. She is currently working on her book manuscript on the aesthetic of the grotesque in post-1975 cultural production in Spain.

Christine Avila

Christine Avila was a member of the original cast of ZOOT SUIT (Mark Taper forum), and holds many awards for her work in a busy 45-year career. A 7-time actress-invitee to Robert Redfield’s Sundance Institute, she has worked with Steven Berkoff, Eva Marie Saint, Suzanna Arquette, Robert  Woodruff, Lisa,Wolpe, Murray Mednick (Padua Hills Festival), and was an associate artist with the Los Angeles Theatre Center. She is a proud member of Actors Equity, SAG-AFTRA, and the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her website for complete bio is

Payton Phillips Quintanilla

Payton earned her PhD in Hispanic Languages and Literatures at UCLA (2018), and is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Her research explores diverse articulations and exploitations of mestizaje in the early modern Hispanic world, with a particular comparative focus on Andalucía and the Andes. Payton has been an active member of the Comedia in Translation and Performance working group since its inception in January 2014, and has worked extensively with community theater organizations, and alongside team members Veronica Wilson and Laura Muñoz, to develop K-12 curriculum based on the working group’s first translation, The Force of Habit (Guillén de Castro).

Veronica Toro
Veronica Toro earned her B.A. in Latin American Studies, Sociology and Linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin, and completed her M.A. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures at UCLA this past May 2019. She is currently an Ed. M. student in the Language and Literacy program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Cheché Silveyra

Cheché Silveyra is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UCLA. His academic interests include the dramatic works of Novohispanic playwright Juan Ruiz de Alarcón and the problem of agency in the female and gracioso characters of the comedias de privanza of Golden Age Spain. He is a member of the LAMAR Interdisciplinary Group, the Certificate in Early Modern Studies, and the Working Group on the Comedia in Translation and Performance.

Rafael Jaime

Rafael Jaime is a Ph.D. student in the Department of English at UCLA. He received a B.A. in English from the University of Arkansas in 2012. Prior to coming to UCLA, he studied and worked in France and Germany for four years, including two years teaching legal English in the Faculty of Law of Université Panthéon-Assas in Paris. Rafael’s research interests include the literature and culture of the Middle Ages, modern and contemporary theory, and law.