Spring 2022

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

Listed in: Spanish, as SPAN-441


Ilan Stavans (Section 01)


A thorough, in-depth exploration of the life and works of Mexican nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695), the most important Latin American writer and thinker of the colonial period and one of the region’s most influential figures overall. The focus will be on the three choices seventeenth-century colonial women faced: marriage, the convent, and the court. We will study churches, convents, and monasteries from religious, political, social, and dietary perspectives. There will be close readings of Sor Juana’s poetry, theater, philosophical disquisitions, autobiographical writing, and theological debates regarding Athanasius Kircher, Erasmus of Rotterdam, and René Descartes. Sor Juana’s afterlife as a feminist and contemporary pop icon will also be studied, as will similar Iberian and Latin American religious writers such as Santa Teresa de Jesús, Fray San Juan de la Cruz, Fray Luis de León, Juan Ruíz de Alarcón and Carlos de Singüenza y Góngora. Conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor.  Limited to 25 students. Spring Semester: Professor Stavans.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: By the end of the course, students will have a broad understanding of the colonial period in Latin America as well as the visual, aural, and written aesthetics of Sor Juana’s work. They will do independent research alone or in groups, oral presentations, artistic work, and philosophical explorations. They will also do substantial writing—all in Spanish. Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022