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Title: Carta Blanca: Representations of Self in Sixteenth-Century Epistolary Fictions
Authors: Sanjuan-Pastor, Nuria
Advisors: Brownlee, Marina
Surtz, Ronald
Contributors: Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures Department
Keywords: Garcilaso
Saint Teresa
Subjects: Romance literature
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Carta Blanca explores the role that the epistolary form played in the development of an early modern subjectivity. This study investigates how authors navigated epistolary conventions and the expectations of a changing readership in order to express their own personal voice and affect their public identity. Each of the three chapters approaches this topic from a different perspective: chapter one focuses on the history of the epistle, chapter two considers the social impact of the publication of familiar letters, and chapter three explores the materiality of the written form. The first chapter traces the literary development of Garcilaso's "Epístola a Boscán" as a hybrid that combines the letter's tendency toward self-exposure with the lyric's use of poetic artifice to express a complex subjectivity. By considering the formal traits that Garcilaso's verse epistle shares with the epistolary and the lyric traditions, I reveal how even a so-called "familiar" address to a friend is always simultaneously an exercise in fictional writing. Taking Antonio de Guevara's Epístolas familiares as a focal point, my second chapter considers the effects of printing one's own collection of personal letters. In his text, Guevara performs a public identity that exists only insofar as it is represented outwardly. Guevara is a public intellectual only because he plays the part of the "hombre cuerdo" in front of an audience. In turn, his public persona can only succeed if his readers trust that a printed letter exposes a truthful familiar exchange. The third chapter considers Teresa of Ávila's letters as physical objects and explores how they acquired the status of relics soon after her death. I argue that these letters manage to represent the individuality of Teresa through the use of her own identifiable language, the presence of her hand, and the emphasis on her suffering. In the faithful's eyes, these textual relics embody the humanity of the saint. All three of these very different authors help us understand the growing desire for self-expression that unfolded as early modern subjects sought independence from the community and developed new forms to represent their individuality.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures

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