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Neither Saints Nor SinnersWriting the Lives of Women in Spanish America$
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Kathleen Ann Myers

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195157239

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195157239.001.0001

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The Tenth Muse

The Tenth Muse

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648–1693)— Letters and Learning in the Church

(p.93) 4 The Tenth Muse
Neither Saints Nor Sinners

Sor Juana Inés De La Cruz

Oxford University Press

This chapter surveys the autobiographical writings of Spanish America's most famous nun, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. In a series of letters to New Spanish clergy from 1682 to 1691, Sor Juana used the epistolary genre, the letter, to define her role and beliefs about religious vocation. In the most famous of these letters, the Respuesta to the bishop of Puebla, Sor Juana combined the rhetorical possibilities of the letter with those of the confessional vida. She redefined the model nun to be one who used God's gifts, which in the case of the intellectually gifted meant following a life of study. Because the path to salvation required using one's gifts, the perfecta religiosa for Sor Juana became the religiosa letrada, a learned nun. This rewriting of the traditional ideology for nuns provoked a crisis.

Keywords:   Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Spanish clergy, Mexico City, tertulias, Respuesta, Obras, Tenth Muse, Phoenix of America

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