Helen Freear-Papio


Spanish Department

Director of the Foreign Language Assistants Program
Senior Lecturer
Ph.D., University of Connecticut

Fields: Contemporary Spanish Drama written by Women, 20th Century Drama and Novel, Directed Independent Language Instruction, Technology in the Language Classroom

Recipient of 2016 Mary Louise Marfuggi Faculty Award for Academic Advisement (see link)

Email: hfreear@holycross.edu
Office Phone: 508-793-2765
Office: Stein 458
PO Box: 35A

About Me

Born and raised in a tiny village outside of Canterbury, Kent, England, I spent my childhood reading, listening to records and playing in the woods, fields and hop gardens around my home. My father was a professor of Finance and Accounting and my mother was an ESL and History teacher at the local community college, so our house was always filled with students from all around the world. We also traveled extensively around the British Isles and France during the long academic summers when I was a young child, and I am sure that my love for other cultures was born in part from wandering around ancient castles and cathedrals, visiting remote villages, trying to communicate with locals and tasting new foods. Then in 1983, when I was a teenager, I had the ultimate cultural experience: we emigrated as a family to the United States because of my father’s work. Talk about a culture shock!

My undergraduate degree was a double major in Business Administration and Spanish, as I was convinced that I wanted to be an international businesswoman. However, my magical study abroad experience at the University of Granada, Spain changed my mind. I realized that I needed to keep learning more about Spanish language and literature. I went to graduate school at UConn where I received my M.A. and PhD. in Spanish Literature. My area of research is contemporary Spanish drama by women from the 1980’s to the present, a specialization that began, I think, when I asked my Spanish drama professor why we were not reading any plays by women in his class. His reply? “Great question! Why don’t you do an independent study with me on this? We can work together to figure this out.”  It turns out to have been a great question to ask because I ended up writing my dissertation on Spanish women dramatists (they do exist!). Aside from teaching seminars on Modern Spanish Drama and dramatist and poet Federico García Lorca, I also teach all levels of language, literature and culture at Holy Cross. My love for theater, both as text and as performance, permeates all of my classes and informs my teaching style.


  • SPAN 101-102 Elementary Spanish 1 & 2
  • SPAN 105-106 Directed Independent Elementary Spanish 1 & 2
  • SPAN 108 - Directed Independent Intensive Elementary Spanish
  • SPAN 201-202 Intermediate Spanish 1 & 2
  • SPAN 215-216 Directed Independent Intermediate Spanish 1 & 2
  • SPAN 303 - Aspects of Spanish Culture
  • SPAN 305 – Introduction to Textual Analysis
  • SPAN 308 – Readings in Spanish Literature
  • SPAN 406 - Modern Spanish Drama
  • SPAN 409 – Federico García Lorca

Research Interests

  • Contemporary Spanish Theater by Women from the early 1980’s to the present
  • Topics investigated include Female Solidarity, Historical Memory and the Re-writing of Myth and History


Freear-Papio, Helen, and Candyce Crew Leonard, editors. The Theatre of Twenty-First Century Spain. Identities, Anxieties, and Social Immediacies. El teatro de España del siglo XXI. Identidades, ansiedades y urgencias sociales. Vernon Press, 2022.


Babel entre el periodismo, la tragedia griega y el teatro documental. Con una breve entrevista a Juana Escabias.” In Juana Escabias, una dramaturga en la trinchera del teatro español del siglo XXI. Isabelle Reck, ed. Madrid, Antígona (2022): 65-84.

"Diana Marta de Paco Serrano. Polifonía." Cerstin Bauer-Funke (ed.). Spanisches Theater des 20. und frühen 21. Jahrhunderts in Einzeldarstellungen, Berlin, ESV (2021): 275-88.

Aprés mois le déluge (Después de mí el diluvio) de Lluïsa Cunillé: metateatro, trauma y compromiso.” In Crisis y creatividad. C. Bauer-Funke, ed. Hildesheim, Olms (2019): 217-227.

“Mitotopías en Casandra de Diana de Paco.” Escenarios de utopía, distopía, y miopía en el teatro contemporáneo de España del siglo XXI. D. Hitchcock y C. Leonard, eds, Editorial Puentes Dramatúrgicos, LLC, New Harmony, Indiana, (2019): 71-82.

 “Género, raza y esperanza: el teatro biográfico feminista de Itziar Pascual.” In Teatro (auto) biográfico. J. Romera Castillo, ed. Madrid: Visor Libros (2019): 437-452.

 “Las voces del otro en Babel de Juana Escabias” In Juana Escabias: Estudios sobre su teatro. Una investigación transoceánica. Ed. R. Fialdini, ed. Salamanca: Benilde (2018): 161-181.

 “Resistance Retold: Historical and Mythical Narratives in Plays by Romero, Resino, Pascual and de Paco Serrano.” Revista feminismo/s 30 (2017): 47-68.

 “Mito, género y emociones: Medea, Clitemnestra y Casandra en la obra dramática de Diana M. de Paco Serrano.” In Myth and Emotions. J. M. Losada and A. Lipscomb, eds. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars P (2017): 107-116.

“Diana M. de Paco Serrano’s Killers: The Challenges of Staging Violence Perpetrated by Women.” Teatro. Revista de Estudios Culturales / A Journal of Cultural Studies 31 (2017): 5-20. 

Polifonía: cuatro mujeres en busca de un mito.” Prologue to Polifonía in Casandras. Diana M. de Paco Serrano. Madrid: Esperpento Ediciones Teatrales (2016): 31-37.

 “La música de la morgue: NN12 de Gracia Morales y Espérame en el cielo, o mejor… no de Diana M. de Paco Serrano.” In Teatro y música en los inicios del siglo XXI. J. Romera Castillo, ed. Madrid: Visor Libros (2016): 274-285.**

“Female Authorship, Choruses and Fugues: Collaborative Retellings in Itziar Pascual’s Mujeres and Variaciones sobre Rosa Parks.” Estreno 42.1 (2016): 50-63.

Related news

Editor of the academic journal Estreno. Cuadernos del teatro del español contemporáneo  editor@estreno.us 

El Español en Camino (Taking Spanish on the Road)