Women's Spiritual Autobiography in Colonial Spanish America / Edition 1

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"A comprehensive and original examination of colonial Latin American religious women’s spiritual autobiographies, Ibsen’s book widens and deepens our vision of these texts, their authors, and the world in which they were produced."--Stacey Schlau, West Chester University

"In its fascinating discussion of mediated authorship in the spiritual autobiographies of the colonial period in Spanish America, Ibsen’s study illuminates for us the discursive strategies used by religious women to reinforce as well as subvert power relations in the convent."—Sherry Velasco, University of Kansas


Kristine Ibsen studies women’s personal narrative in colonial Spanish America, focusing particularly on the spiritual autobiography of the 17th and 18th centuries and offering revealing insights into the social and political position of cloistered women.
 In Spanish American literature, women's autobiography is rooted in the hagiographic tradition of vitae in which, at the request of a confessor, nuns wrote about their spiritual lives in an autobiographical form. Although not intended for publication, these narratives, or ,vidas, often circulated informally among other religious women, and were indeed often written with this in mind. Simultaneously written for their male confessor(s) and their female peers, such texts illustrate a fascinating exercise in double-voiced discourse.
 Placing these works in historical context, Ibsen examines them in terms not only of their discursive strategies but also of how these strategies incorporate and question prevailing social, rhetorical, and cultural structures. On the margins and between the lines, the vida has the potential to effect a profound renegotiation of the terms and forms of self-representation.

Kristine Ibsen, associate professor of Romance languages and literatures at the University of Notre Dame, is editor of The Other Mirror: Women’s Narrative in Mexico, 1980-1995 and author of Author, Text and Reader in the Novels of Carlos Fuentes.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813017273
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida
  • Publication date: 12/28/1999
  • Edition description: First
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Table of Contents

Principal Authors Discussed
Introduction - Multiple Heroines: Women's Spiritual Autobiography in Colonial Spanish America 1
1 Body and Soul: Self-Representation as Confessional Discourse 19
2 Immaculate Conceptions: Madre Castillo Wrestles with the Truth 48
3 Cloisters of the Soul: Spiritual Autobiography and the Hagiographic Tradition 62
4 Geography of the Sacred: Sebastiana Josefa de la Santisima Trinidad and the Hagiographic Representation of the Body 85
5 The Hiding Places of My Power: Visionary Authority, and Mystic Space 97
6 The Unimprisoned Mind: Ursula Suarez and the Self-Fashioning Heroine 121
Epilogue: And the Rest Is Silence - Reply to Sor Filotea and Other Random Thoughts 137
Notes 141
Bibliography 183
Index 199
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