St. Teresa of Avila: Author of a Heroic Life

Overview

With few exceptions, representations of Renaissance women were created by men. The Spanish saint, Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), who chose to represent herself, was one of those exceptions. What prompted her to write Book of Her Life,
Interior Castle
, and other works? What does the self-portrait of this sixteenth-century nun, mystic, and founder of convents reveal about its author, the church, state, and role of women?

St. Teresa of Avila, an ...

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Overview

With few exceptions, representations of Renaissance women were created by men. The Spanish saint, Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), who chose to represent herself, was one of those exceptions. What prompted her to write Book of Her Life,
Interior Castle
, and other works? What does the self-portrait of this sixteenth-century nun, mystic, and founder of convents reveal about its author, the church, state, and role of women?

St. Teresa of Avila, an innovative analysis of Teresa's autobiographical writings, explores these and many other questions. Bringing to bear a knowledge of
Inquisition studies, theory of autobiography, scriptural hermeneutics, and hagiography, Carole Slade defines Teresa's writings as a project of self-interpretation undertaken mainly as the result of the perceived, later realized, threat of an accusation of heresy. Being female and of paternal Jewish ancestry, Teresa was vulnerable to such a charge.

Teresa's writing project presented her with serious difficulties. Judicial confession, her prescribed genre, presumed the writer's guilt, while the subordinate female script precluded a defense against the suspicion that her mystical experiences came from the devil. Through careful textual analysis, Slade demonstrates that Teresa exploited the nuances of numerous genres—hagiography, New World chronicle, mystical theological treatise, and early novel—to create an innocent textual persona and depict herself in heroic terms.

A signal contribution to our understanding of Teresa's rhetorical and literary talent and life circumstances, this book will engage readers across a broad range of disciplines.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520088023
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 7/15/1995
  • Pages: 238
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.23 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Carole Slade teaches in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Note on Editions, Translations, Abbreviations, Terminology
Chronology
Introduction 1
1 The Genres of the Book of Her Life 9
2 Teresa's Feminist Figural Readings of Scripture 39
3 Teresa's Representation of Her "Old Life": Life 1-10 65
4 Teresa's Analogies for Her Mystical Experience: Life 11-22, Interior Castle 84
5 Teresa's Representation of Her "New Life": Life 32-36, Foundations 107
6 The Role of Teresa's Books in the Canonization Proceedings 127
7 Epilogue: Psychoanalytic Interpretations of Teresa's Mystical Experience 133
Appendix A. Censure by Brother Domingo Banez on the manuscript of the Life 145
Appendix B. Judgment, attributed to Pedro Ibanez 149
Notes 153
Bibliography 187
Index 199
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