Embodied authority in the spiritual autobiographies of four early modern women from Spain and Mexico

by Cloud, Christine M

Abstract (Summary)
This dissertation is a study of how four early modern Hispanic women religious constructed embodied authority through their fusion of different hagiographic models with their bodies and their lived bodily experiences within their spiritual autobiographical writing, or vidas, and in the process transformed the formulaic nature of the genre. Six chapters analyze the four distinct, complex autobiographical narratives of the Spanish religious Isabel de Jesús (1586-1648) and Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza (1566-1641) and the Mexican nuns María Magdalena Lorravaquio Muñoz (1576-1636) and María de San José, (1576-1636). The chapters explore how these four women accomplished this goal by talking back to enforced enclosure by re-defining their “unruly” or “unenclosed” feminine bodies in the interest of obtaining and/or justifying a position of religious and spiritual authority. The introductory chapter offers an explanation of the hypothesis, the theoretical framework and methodology, a summary of the chapters, and a review of the literature regarding the topic. The second chapter explores the revalorization of the maternal body of the Spanish Augustinian Isabel de Jesús. Chapter three discusses the transformation of the Mexican Hieronymite María Magdalena from sickness to authority through her embodied mysticism seen with “los ojos corporales.” Chapter four analyzes how bodies, space and authority are mutually constructed as the body of another Mexican nun, the Augustinian María de San José, is transformed into first a “Desert Mother” and then later a “virgin bride of Christ.” Chapter five considers how the construction of remembered experiences of childhood bodily abuse transformed Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza’s Vida into a hybrid text that is both a spiritual autobiography and a trauma narrative. The final chapter offers an analysis of how the diverse ways in which each of the spiritual autobiographers made their textual bodies visible within their Vidas reflect their positions as multiple embodied subjectivities. It concludes with a discussion of the project’s contributions to the fields of Golden Age and colonial Hispanic literature.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The Ohio State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:spiritual autobiography body early modern hispanic women


Date of Publication:01/01/2006

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