Journal of Romance Studies

A proposal of Saint Teresa de Ávila’s rhetorical strategy in the twentieth chapter of Libro de la vida

Journal of Romance Studies (2009), 9, (1), 19–29.

Abstract

If we accept claims of her Jewish ancestry and her personal divine revelations, Saint Teresa de Ávila had plenty to conceal from a dominant Church. In Libro de la vida, the methods she uses to avoid any threat to her orthodox status within the Roman Catholic Church are many and varied, exemplified by the chapter in which she defines and describes her possibly heretical rapture (arrobamiento). Borrowing two epistemological terms from the philosopher Richard Rorty, we can trace those moments where Saint Teresa employs ‘conversational justification’ of belief in her status as a non-heretic contrasted with those where she uses first-person claims of an ‘epistemological justification’. Saint Teresa manages to assimilate into conversation what would otherwise be a personal statement; she shifts the privileged representation of rapture from her own account to the readers’ shared understanding.

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Du Boulay, Shirley (2004) Teresa of Ávila: An Extraordinary Life (New York: BlueBridge). Teresa of Ávila: An Extraordinary Life Google Scholar

Eimerich, Nicolau (1973) Le Manuel des inquisiteurs [ Directorium Inquisitorum (1376)], Le savoir historique 8, trans. and introd. Louis Sala-Molins (Paris: Mouton). Le Manuel des inquisiteurs Google Scholar

García de la Concha, Víctor (2004) Al aire de su vuelo, estudios sobre santa Teresa, fray Luis de León, san Juan de la Cruz, y Calderón de la Barca (Barcelona: Círculo de Lectores/Galaxia Gutenberg). Al aire de su vuelo, estudios sobre santa Teresa, fray Luis de León, san Juan de la Cruz, y Calderón de la Barca Google Scholar

Hark, Jeannette (2003) Metakommunikation in spanischen autobiographischen Texten Studien zur Romanistik, 3 (Hamburg: Verlag Dr. Kovač). Metakommunikation in spanischen autobiographischen Texten Studien zur Romanistik Google Scholar

Howells, Edward (2002) John of the Cross and Teresa of Ávila, Mystical Knowing and Selfhood (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company). John of the Cross and Teresa of Ávila, Mystical Knowing and Selfhood Google Scholar

Hunt, Helen LaKelly (2003) ‘Abolitionist Feminists of the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women of 1837: The Role of Theological Vision and the Ethic of Sympathy’, PhD dissertation (New York: Union Theological Seminary). Abolitionist Feminists of the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women of 1837: The Role of Theological Vision and the Ethic of Sympathy Google Scholar

Hunt, Helen LaKelly (2004) Faith and Feminism: A Holy Alliance (New York: Astria Books). Faith and Feminism: A Holy Alliance Google Scholar

Lins Brandão, Jacyntho (2003) ‘Do difícil de entender em Santa Teresa’, in Mulheres de palavra, ed. Eliana Yunes and Maria Clara Lucchetti Bingemer (São Paulo: Ediçoes Loyola), 229–42. Do difícil de entender em Santa Teresa Mulheres de palavra 229 42 Google Scholar

Llamas Martínez, Enrique (1972) Santa Teresa de Jesús y la Inquisición española (Madrid: Centro Superior de Investigaciones Científicas). Santa Teresa de Jesús y la Inquisición española Google Scholar

MacKinnon, Donald (1978) ‘Some epistemological reflections on mystical experience’, in Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis, Studies in Philosophy and Religion 5, ed. Steven Katz (London: Sheldon), 132–40. Some epistemological reflections on mystical experience Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis 132 40 Google Scholar

Medwick, Cathleen (2000) Teresa of Ávila: The Progress of a Soul (New York: Knopf). Teresa of Ávila: The Progress of a Soul Google Scholar

Peers, E. Allison (ed. and trans.) (1960) The Life of Teresa of Jesús: The Autobiography of St. Teresa of Ávila, from the Critical Edition of P. Silverio de Santa Teresa (Garden City NY: Image Books). The Life of Teresa of Jesús: The Autobiography of St. Teresa of Ávila Google Scholar

Rorty, Richard (1980) Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (Oxford: Blackwell). Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature Google Scholar

Saint Teresa de Ávila (1962) Libro de la vida, in Obras completas de Santa Teresa de Jesús, ed. Efrén de la Madre de Dios and Otger Steggink (Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos), 13–179. Libro de la vida Obras completas de Santa Teresa de Jesús 13 179 Google Scholar

Slade, Carole (1995) Saint Teresa of Ávila: Author of a Heroic Life (London: University of California). Saint Teresa of Ávila: Author of a Heroic Life Google Scholar

Slade, Carole (2003) ‘The relationship between Teresa of Ávila and Philip II: a reading of extant textual evidence’, Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 94, 223. The relationship between Teresa of Ávila and Philip II: a reading of extant textual evidence Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 94 223 Google Scholar

Weber, Alison (1990) Teresa of Ávila and the Rhetoric of Femininity (Princeton: Princeton University Press). Teresa of Ávila and the Rhetoric of Femininity Google Scholar

Williams, Rowan (1991) Teresa of Ávila (London: Cassell). Teresa of Ávila Google Scholar

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Brown, Kevin Smullin