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Al Raddi's Blog

05 Apr 2020

Sor Juana: The First Published Feminist of the New World

National Coin Week | Al Raddi

Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramírez de Santillanawas born inSan Miguel NepantlanearMexico City in 1648 or 1651. She lived a comfortable life with her mother and maternal grandparents and educated herself from her grandfather's library. In her teens, she continued her studies privately while she was lady-in-waiting at the colonial viceroy's court. She turned down marriage proposals and, when she was age 19, chose to become a nun so she could study as she wished and "have no fixed occupation which might curtail my freedom to study."

Juana joined the order of St. Jerome (The Hieronymites), took the name Sor. Juana Inés de la Cruz (Sister Joan Agnes of the Cross) and remained cloistered in the Convent of Santa Paula of the Hieronymite in Mexico City from 1669 until her death in April 1695. While in the convent, she studied and wrote religious and secular poetry and prose dealing with topics including love,feminism, andreligion. And, her writing was published in Spain through the patronage of the Viceroy and Vicereine of New Spain.

In 1690 the Bishop of Puebla wrote a letter saying she should focus on religious instead of secular studies and, as a woman, devote herself to prayer and give up her writing. In response, Sor. Juana wrote a letter defending a woman's right to formal education and advocating for a woman's right to serve as an intellectual authority through writing and publishing. The Archbishop of Mexicothen wrote a letter condemning Sor Juana's "waywardness" and her challenge to the patriarchal structure of theCatholic Church.

By 1693, Sor. Juana stopped publishing, agreed to do penance and sold all her books. And, two years later, she died ministering to other nuns in the convent stricken during aplague,

In 1989, the Mexican prose and poetry writer and Nobel laureate Octavio Paz revived interest in her writing as examples of feminist advocacy. And she appeared on a Mexico 1,000-peso then on a 200-peso banknote.

Comments

Mike

Level 7

I enjoyed it very much. The hjeeistory of this woman and the note. Both impresive. Thanks for taking the timem l iij

Mokie

Level 6

That is a very attractive 1000 Peso note and a great story. Thanks for sharing Al Raddi, you find the most interesting ladies.

Kepi

Level 6

Beautiful note! Thanks for an informative blog and sharing this lovely Mexican note. ; )

Longstrider

Level 6

Excellent blog and beautiful notes. I collect Mexican notes and currency and this is a beauty I will be looking for. The Sister certainly led an eventful life. I imagine she is looking down on us from Heaven and enjoying how the Women's Movement has taken shape thanks to people like her. Great read and history lesson. Thanks.

Golfer

Level 5

Thanks for the education. Enjoyed learning about this woman and her life.

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