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Studies on Women's Poetry of the Golden Age

Studies on Women's Poetry of the Golden Age: Tras el espejo la musa escribe

Edited by Julián Olivares
Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 346
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  • Book Info
    Studies on Women's Poetry of the Golden Age
    Book Description:

    This collection of fourteen scholarly essays on women's poetry from Spain's early modern period shows that women did indeed have a Golden Age, and that they were significant cultural actors in the realms of poetic production. The studies of secular verse demonstrate how female poets of this period devised strategies to confront the dominant masculine poetic discourse, while the essays on sacred poetry explore the multiple manifestations of female piety and mysticism. The women's words are brought to life and modern readers helped to understand the socio-cultural, interpersonal, and aesthetic components of the poets' oeuvre. The volume, a companion to Julián Olivares' and Elizabeth Boyce's revised anthology "Tras el espejo la musa escribe": Lírica femenina de los Siglos de Oro, constitutes an authoritative critical enterprise focused on the recuperation of the female literary voice, and marks an important step forward in the battle to include women's writing as part of Spain's literary canon. Contributors: Electa Arenal, Aránzazu Borrachero Mendíbil, Anne J. Cruz, Adrienne L. Martin, Rosa Navarro Durán, Julián Olivares, Inmaculada Osuna, Amanda Powell, Elizabeth Rhodes, Stacey Schlau, Lía Schwartz, Alison Weber, Judith Whitenack. JULIAN OLIVARES is Professor of Spanish at the University of Houston and editor of Calíope, Journal of the Society for Renaissance and Baroque Hispanic Poetry.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-765-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Contributors
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)

    La conversación que tuvo Juan Boscán con el Navagero en Granada, en 1526, fue decisiva para la lírica española. Como el embajador veneciano le sugirió al poeta catalán, éste probó “en lengua castellana sonetos y otras artes de trovas usadas por los buenos autores de Italia” (Boscán 30), y también lo hizo su amigo Garcilaso de la Vega. Se acababa de abrir un cauce hondísimo, absolutamente nuevo, para la poesía, porque no sólo iba a ser una renovación radical de formas estróficas, de ritmos, sino de contenidos.

    Boscán en la carta a la duquesa de Soma, a quien le dedica...

  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    The discovery and publication of Spanish women writers of the Golden Age has increased dramatically in the past twenty years. This was and continues to be the first step in the recovery of the female literary voice. With regard to narrative, after centuries of neglect, thenovelasof María de zayas y Sotomayor have commanded the majority of editorial attention. Thecomediasof female playwrights also have been edited and published, with Ana Caro de Mallén and—again—María de zayas commanding center stage.¹ The second most prolific literary activity of the period—but scarcely published—was poetry, the most...

  6. Secular Poetry

    • Vir melancholicus/femina tristis: Towards a Poetics of Women’s Loss
      (pp. 19-50)

      The notion ofmelancholiaas a gendered affliction began with Aristotle, who in hisProblems(XXX), affirmed that it was a malady that afflicted “all great men.”¹ Women, being essentially cold and moist, according to the theory of the humors, were unable, like the warmer and drier men, to becomeatrabilic; that is, men were able to produce “black bile,” the agent of melan-cholia, whereas women were incapable of producing it. With the cultivation of the classics during the Renaissance, this Aristotelian notion was revived and enhanced by Marsilio Ficino, in hisDe vita(Book I), who “reconceived [melancholia] as...

    • “¡Oh qué diversas estamos, / dulce prenda, vos y yo!” Multiple Voicings in Love Poems to Women by Marcia Belisarda, Catalina Clara Ramírez de Guzmán, and Sor Violante del Cielo
      (pp. 51-80)

      Like their counterparts elsewhere in early modern Europe, Spanish and Portuguese women poets redirected Petrarchan conventions in order to critique gender inequities and to discard the mute, passive role assigned to women on and off the page.¹ Three seventeenth-century poets who boldly redirect courtly love in poems addressed to women are Marcia Belisarda, Catalina Clara Ramírez de Guzmán, and Sor Violante del Cielo/do Ceu. Just as strictly delineated vestimentary codes allowed some venturing women to don male disguise for broader horizons or access to a wage economy,² so the structures and conventions of Petrarchan verse allowed for startling gender play...

    • El autorretrato en la poesía de Catalina Clara Ramírez de Guzmán
      (pp. 81-99)

      A quienes, como yo, se acercan a la literatura teniendo en cuenta el papel que en ella juega el género sexual, no se les escapará que el reflejo acuático de Narciso, descrito unas líneas más arriba por Ovidio, podría fácilmente confundirse con el sujeto femenino literario de la poesía lírica del Renacimiento y del Barroco.¹

      Esta coincidencia—la del ideal retórico de belleza femenina de los Siglos de Oro con la faz de Narciso—es más rica en matices interpretativos de lo que a primera vista pareciera, pues la crítica contemporánea de la poesía amorosa barroca hace uso frecuente del...

    • Female Burlesque and the Everyday
      (pp. 100-122)

      Can literary critics possibly determine what made early modern Spanish women laugh and why? Is there such a thing as a specifically female sense of humor, and if there is, what did it consist of in early modern Spain and how was it expressed by women poets? These are the larger questions that motivate this essay on female burlesque, that is, burlesque poetry written by women in Golden Age Spain.¹ In that regard, several of the poets anthologized in Julián Olivares’s and Elizabeth Boyce’s compilationTras el espejo la musa escribe: Lírica femenina de los Siglos de Oro(2009) wrote...

    • Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón y la poesía de circunstancias
      (pp. 123-148)

      En la transición de los siglos XVI y XVII la ciudad de Antequera, a la sazón mediano núcleo de población de importante actividad comercial y agrícola, revela una destacada vida cultural en la que parecen haber intervenido diversas circunstancias. su enclave, paso casi obligado en las comunicaciones entre las cercanas sevilla, Granada y málaga, debió de desempeñar un papel relevante en ese desarrollo, en contacto con núcleos de notable producción literaria, como las dos primeras ciudades mencionadas o Córdoba; también suele considerarse al respecto la cátedra de gramática de su iglesia colegial, que a lo largo de un siglo atrajo,...

    • Poems by Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón in Two Famous Baroque Anthologies: Primera y Segunda Parte de las Flores de poetas ilustres de España
      (pp. 149-165)

      The compiler of a poetical anthology has been defined as a reader who rewrites the texts he selected by organizing them in new configurations. Claudio Guillén (413) also characterized the compiler as a “superreader” who wants to guide his contemporaries as consumers of literature, thus ultimately modifying their horizon of expectations. Guillén’s observations help us understand the function that someflorilegiafulfilled in early modern Spain, an age when, as is well known, in very few cases did individual writers supervise printed editions of their own work and poetry circulated mostly in manuscript. The printing presses mostly helped popularize old...

    • Ana Abarca de Bolea: “Los lucimientos de las mujeres”
      (pp. 166-182)

      Placed by her parents in the Cistercian convent at Casbas in 1605 at the tender age of three, Doña Ana Francisca Abarca de Bolea y Mur spent the rest of her 80-plus years in that isolated location in the mountains of Aragón near Huesca.¹ Around the same time, her parents also put Ana’s sister Doña Lorenza, then about five, in the nearby convent at Sigena. From the modern perspective these actions might seem heartless—even shocking—and well beyond what one scholar has attributed to “una costumbre monástica de la época.”² Nonetheless, although it is tempting to try to find...

  7. Religious Poetry

    • Could Women Write Mystical Poetry? The Literary Daughters of Juan de la Cruz
      (pp. 185-201)

      In his 1942 prologue to a study of San Juan de la Cruz, Dámaso Alonso confessed to feeling “terror” at the prospect of approaching the works of the great Carmelite mystic. Not only would the critic have to face the formidable problems presented by the textual maze of San Juan’s poetry and its myriad literary and doctrinal sources, he would have to confront the problem of the mutual relationship between poetry and mystical experience (18). The title of his book,La poesía de San Juan de la Cruz (desde esta ladera), gives a clear indication of how Alonso sought to...

    • Gender in the Night: Juan de la Cruz and Cecilia del Nacimiento
      (pp. 202-217)

      The notion of “the dark night of the soul,” the subject of the two mystical poems under consideration here, has passed itself through a remarkable metamorphosis. The phrase is generally understood to have originated in Plotinus (?205–270? CE), who used it to describe the radiant darkness that characterizes the final phases of mystical union (Underhill 15). San Juan de la Cruz made the expression famous in his eight-stanza poem “Noche oscura,” whose subject Kieran Kavanaugh describes as “the painful passage through the night, and the unspeakable joy of encountering God” (353). From this celestial height, the same expression has...

    • María de San Alberto: Bridging Popular and “High” Spanish Poetic Traditions through the Sacred
      (pp. 218-232)

      In 1589, when María Sobrino Morillas professed as María de San Alberto, along with her younger sister (thereafter known as Cecilia del Nacimiento), in the Discalced Carmelite Convento de la Concepción in Valladolid, she and her sibling followed the path of religious life already well traveled by most of their older brothers.¹ From the monastery, both sisters also continued another familial practice: writing. Sometimes they collaborated.² On her own, the older wrote poetry in many different forms and meters, even in other languages, some of which she used to enter the secular world, by submitting verses to thecertámenes(poetry...

    • Sex and Class in the Seventeenth-Century Cloister: Sor Marcela de San Félix’s Love Poems to God
      (pp. 233-254)

      Playwright and poet Sor Marcela de San Félix (b. Toledo, 1605, d. Madrid, 1687) wrote at a time of political decline, counterposed by a period of a tremendous flowering of literature and the arts in Spain.¹ While, as the saying went, “the sun never set” on the far-flung Spanish empire, Spain had lost its dominion over the seas and, therefore, of commerce. Like all empires it was built on the exploitation of indigenous and imported, enslaved labor. Tightly controlled mercantilist economic policies strained the country’s finances, as did a top-heavy class of semi-idle aristocrats. The Catholic Church continued to amass...

    • Words Made Flesh: Luisa de Carvajal’s Eucharistic Poetry
      (pp. 255-269)
      ANNE J. CRUZ

      Although still little studied by most critics, Luisa de Carvajal y Mendoza’s poetry has earned high praise from her biographers.¹ Perhaps because the extant number of poems—fifty in all—composed by this extraordinary noblewoman is so small and limited to a specific period of her life, they convey an immediate—and seemingly unmediated—manifestation of Carvajal’s spiritual experiences. Yet their very immediacy is itself a function of the writer’s skill in composing the poems and in creating a poetic persona. Although the majority of Carvajal’s poetry is written in the popular style of coplas, quintillas, romances, romancillos, and redondillas,...

    • Sor María de la Antigua’s Coloquios with Examiners, Editors, Saints, and God
      (pp. 270-280)

      The study of Spanish mysticism has been largely confined to the commentary of the works of Sta. Teresa de Jesús and San Juan de la Cruz, and also to those of the quasi-mystic Fray Luis de León. In the last 20 years or so, however, the works of other mystics and devotional writers—notably women religious—have been discovered or rediscovered, published and commented, thereby adding new works and criticism to this dearth of literature. The research and publications of Electa Arenal and Stacey Schlau, Georgina Sabat, Ronald Surtz, Mary Giles, Anne Cruz, Elizabeth Rhodes, and Elizabeth Boyce and myself,...

  8. Afterword
    (pp. 281-292)

    The essays dealing with female secular love poetry appear to support Rosa Navarro’s observation that within the Italianate poetic tradition there was little if any place for the female poet. The Petrarchan tradition established a male desiring subject and a female desired object: “Ella es la hermosura, no el deseo; es el objeto del canto, no el cantor” (Navarro). Female poets writing in this amorous tradition encountered another obstacle. Petrarchism had run its course by the seventeenth century,¹ so that even male poets were hard pressed to construct the persona of a convincing “amante” in a drama of an “amor...

    (pp. 293-314)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 315-321)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 322-322)