New Research on Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1651-1695)

New Research on Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1651-1695)

Sor Juana has changed again!

Professor Volek will present recent research on Sor Juana and will answer questions during Humanities Week. 

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was a Mexican writer, philosopher, composer, poet of the Baroque period and Hieronymite nun. Her outspoken opinions granted her lifelong names such as "The Tenth Muse," "The Phoenix of Mexico" and "The Phoenix of America," for she was a flame that rose from the ashes of "religious authoritarianism."

Sor Juana lived during Mexico's colonial period, making her a contributor both to early Spanish literature as well as to the broader literature of the Spanish Golden Age. Beginning her studies at a young age, Sor Juana was fluent in Latin and also wrote in Nahuatl, and became known for her philosophy in her teens. Sor Juana educated herself in her own library, which was mostly inherited from her grandfather. After joining a nunnery in 1667, Sor Juana began writing poetry and prose dealing with such topics as love, feminism and religion. She turned her nun's quarters into a salon, visited by the city's intellectual elite. Among them was Countess Maria Luisa de Paredes, Vicereine of Mexico. Her criticism of misogyny and the hypocrisy of men led to her condemnation by the Bishop of Puebla, and in 1694 she was forced to sell her collection of books and focus on charity towards the poor. She died the next year, having caught the plague while treating her sisters. 

After she had faded from academic discourse for hundreds of years, Octavio Paz re-established Sor Juana's importance in modern times. Scholars now interpret Sor Juana as a protofeminist, and she is the subject of vibrant discourses about themes such as colonialism, education rights, women's religious authority and writing as examples of feminist advocacy.

Emil Volek