1st Edition

Women's Literacy in Early Modern Spain and the New World

Edited By Anne J. Cruz, Rosilie Hernández Copyright 2011

    Containing essays from leading and recent scholars in Peninsular and colonial studies, this volume offers entirely new research on women's acquisition and practice of literacy, on conventual literacy, and on the cultural representations of women's literacy. Together the essays reveal the surprisingly broad range of pedagogical methods and learning experiences undergone by early modern women in Spain and the New World. Focusing on the pedagogical experiences in Spain, New Spain (present-day Mexico), and New Granada (Colombia) of such well-known writers as Saint Teresa of Ávila, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and María de Zayas, as well as of lesser-known noble women and writers, and of nuns in the Spanish peninsula and the New World, the essays contribute significantly to the study of gendered literacy by investigating the ways in which women”religious and secular, aristocratic and plebeian”became familiarized with the written word, not only by means of the education received but through visual art, drama, and literary culture. Contributors to this collection explore the abundant writings by early modern women to disclose the extent of their participation in the culture of Spain and the New World. They investigate how women”playwrights, poets, novelists, and nuns” applied their education both to promote literature and to challenge the male-dominated hierarchy of church and state. Moreover, they shed light on how women whose writings were not considered literary also took part in the gendering of Hispanic culture through letters and autobiographies, among other means, and on how that same culture depicted women's education in the visual arts and the literature of the period.

    List of Figures, Notes on Contributors, Acknowledgments, Introduction, Part 1 The Practices of Women’s Literacy, Part 2 Conventual Literacy in Spain and the New World, Part 3 Representing Women’s Literacy in Art and Literature, Index


    Anne J. Cruz is Professor of Spanish and Cooper Fellow, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, University of Miami, USA. Rosilie Hernández is Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of Illinois at Chicago, USA.

    Prize: Winner in the Collaborative Project category for books published in 2011, awarded by the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women 'Women's Literacy in Early Modern Spain and the New World will interest anyone engaged in women's studies, early modern history, and the literature of Golden Age Spain. This volume cogently demonstrates that, contrary to received notions, many early modern Spanish women were well educated, although they could take many different paths to reach that educated state.' Ronald E. Surtz, Princeton University, USA '... one of those rare critical studies that is so full of compelling insights that it is a true academic page turner. It is a recent title in the series Women and Gender in the Early Modern World published by Ashgate and is one of the finest examples of scholarship and among the freshest approaches to the study of Spain and the New World in recent memory... There is a comprehensive index at the end of the collection to facilitate searches for specific authors, cultural critics, thematic approaches, and types of primary sources, including categories such as vidas, letter-writing, and devotional texts. In all, this is a well-conceived, thoughtfully executed, and engaging collection of scholarship.' Renaissance Quarterly '... through presentations of a variety of social contexts and literary genres, and undergirded by clear methodologies, this collection takes us closer to a deeper comprehension of the historical reality.' Hispanic American Historical Review 'This book will prove appealing to historians, scholars of religion, gender studies specialists, literature professors, book history people, and students of mysticism... The contributors also demonstrate an acute consciousness of one another’s work, referencing each other’s essays in a way that lends cohesion to the collection as a whole.' Sixteenth Century Journal '... this is an engaging collection which merits a broad readership among scholars of women’s educa