Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’s life (1648 /1651?-1695) was full of paradoxes: she was the daughter of an illiterate mother, but she formed the largest private library in New Spain; although theology was an exclusively male activity in her time, she became an exegete of the Bible; and despite her vocation for the humanities, the most prominent men of the Church in Mexico insistently reminded her that her obligation was to obey and live as a good wife of Christ. This lecture aims to show how Sor Juana tried, with greater or lesser success, to reconcile her two personalities, that of a scholar and that of a nun. Sister Juana was unique among all the nuns and scholars of the viceroyalty and, in her century, she embodied intellectual freedom as well as an extraordinary way of being a woman.
Francisco Ramírez Santacruz is a Professor of Spanish and Latin American literature at the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla in Mexico. He has held a research grant at the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Cologne and has been a visiting professor at Basel, Lyon, and several Mexican universities. He is a specialist in Hispanic literature and culture of the early modern period at both sides of the Atlantic and in 20th century Hispanic literature. He is the author of Sor Juana’s most recent biography: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: La resistencia del deseo (Cátedra, 2019). He is currently at Harvard University as a visiting professor of the Observatory in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.