Ines Johnson Biography & Facts
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (12 November 1648 – 17 April 1695) was a Mexican writer, philosopher, composer, poet of the Baroque period, and Hieronymite nun. Her outspoken opinions granted her lifelong names such as "The Tenth Muse" and "The Phoenix of America", for she was a flame that rose from the ashes of "religious authoritarianism".Sor Juana lived during Mexico's colonial period, making her a contributor both to early Spanish literature as well as to the broader literature of the Spanish Golden Age. Beginning her studies at a young age, Sor Juana was fluent in Latin and also wrote in Nahuatl, and became known for her philosophy in her teens. Sor Juana educated herself in her own library, which was mostly inherited from her grandfather. After joining a nunnery in 1667, Sor Juana began writing poetry and prose dealing with such topics as love, feminism, and religion. She turned her nun's quarters into a salon, visited by the city's intellectual elite. Among them was Countess Maria Luisa de Paredes, Vicereine of Mexico. Her criticism of misogyny and the hypocrisy of men led to her condemnation by the Bishop of Puebla, and in 1694 she was forced to sell her collection of books and focus on charity towards the poor. She died the next year, having caught the plague while treating her sisters.After she had faded from academic discourse for hundreds of years, Octavio Paz re-established Sor Juana's importance in modern times. Scholars now interpret Sor Juana as a protofeminist, and she is the subject of vibrant discourses about themes such as colonialism, education rights, women's religious authority, and writing as examples of feminist advocacy.
Juana Inés de Asbaje y Ramírez de Santillana was born in San Miguel Nepantla (now called Nepantla de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz in her honor) near Mexico City. She was the illegitimate child of a Spanish captain, Pedro Manuel de Asbaje, and a Criolla woman, Isabel Ramírez. Owing to her Spanish ancestry and Mexican birth, Juana is considered a Criolla. Juana was baptized 2 December 1651 and described on the baptismal rolls as "a daughter of the Church", although her biological father, according to all accounts, was absent from her life. However, thanks to her maternal grandfather, who owned an Hacienda in Amecameca, Juana lived a comfortable life. She spent her early years living with her mother on his estate, Panoaya.During her childhood, Juana often hid in the Hacienda chapel to read her grandfather's books from the adjoining library, something forbidden to girls. By the age of three, Juana had learned how to read and write Latin. By the age of five, she reportedly could do accounts. At age eight, she composed a poem on the Eucharist. By adolescence, Juana had mastered Greek logic, and at age thirteen she was teaching Latin to young children. She also learned the Aztec language of Nahuatl and wrote some short poems in that language.
In 1664, at the age of 16, Juana was sent to live in Mexico City. She asked her mother's permission to disguise herself as a male student so that she could enter the university there. Without the ability to obtain formal education, Juana continued her studies privately. She was a lady-in-waiting at the colonial viceroy's court, where she came under the tutelage of the Vicereine Leonor del Carretto, wife of the Viceroy of New Spain Antonio Sebastián de Toledo. The viceroy, the Marquis de Mancera, wishing to test the learning and intelligence of the 17-year-old, invited several theologians, jurists, philosophers, and poets to a meeting, during which she had to answer many questions unprepared and explain several difficult points on various scientific and literary subjects. The manner in which she acquitted herself astonished all present and greatly increased her reputation. Her literary accomplishments garnered her fame throughout New Spain. She was much admired in the viceregal court, and she received several proposals of marriage, which she declined.In 1667, she entered the Monastery of St. Joseph, a community of the Discalced Carmelite nuns, as a postulant, where she remained but a few months. Later, in 1669, she entered the monastery of the Hieronymite nuns, which had more relaxed rules. She chose to become a nun so that she could study as she wished since she wanted "to have no fixed occupation which might curtail my freedom to study."
In the convent and perhaps earlier, Sor Juana became intimate friends with fellow savant, Don Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora, who visited her in the convent's locutorio. She stayed cloistered in the Convent of Santa Paula of the Hieronymite in Mexico City from 1669 until her death, and there she studied, wrote, and collected a large library of books. The Viceroy and Vicereine of New Spain became her patrons; they supported her and had her writings published in Spain. She addressed some of her poems to paintings of her friend and patron María Luisa Manrique de Lara y Gonzaga, daughter of Vespasiano Gonzaga, Duca di Guastala, Luzara e Rechiolo and Inés María Manrique, 9th Countess de Paredes, which she also addressed as Lísida.
In November 1690, the bishop of Puebla, Manuel Fernández de Santa Cruz published, under the pseudonym of Sor Filotea, and without her permission, Sor Juana's critique of a 40-year-old sermon by Father António Vieira, a Portuguese Jesuit preacher. Although Sor Juana's intentions for the work, called Carta Atenagórica are left to interpretation, many scholars have opted to interpret the work as a challenge to the hierarchical structure of religious authority. Along with Carta Atenagórica, the bishop also published his own letter in which he said she should focus on religious instead of secular studies. He published his criticisms to use them to his advantage against the priest, and while he agreed with her criticisms, he believed that as a woman, she should devote herself to prayer and give up her writings.
In response to her critics, Sor Juana wrote a letter, Respuesta a Sor Filotea de la Cruz (Reply to Sister Philotea), in which she defended women's right to formal education. She also advocated for women's right to serve as intellectual authorities, not only through the act of writing, but also through the publication of their writing. By putting women, specifically older women, in positions of authority, Sor Juana argued, women could educate other women. Resultingly, Sor Juana argued, this practice could also avoid potentially dangerous situations involving male teachers in intimate settings with young female students.In addition to her status as a woman in a self-prescribed position of authority, Sor Juana's radical position made her an increasingly controversial figure. She famously remarked by quoting an Aragonese poet and echoing St. Teresa of Ávila: "One can perfectly well philosophize while cooking supper." In response, Francisco de Aguiar y Seijas, Archbishop of Mexico joined other high-ranking off.... Discover the Ines Johnson popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Ines Johnson books.