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Authors: Hanna, Daniel
Advisors: Schroder, Volker
Contributors: French and Italian Department
Subjects: Literature
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: When Teresa of Avila founded the Order of Discalced Carmelites in sixteenth-century Spain, she did so in part to restore the austerity that had previously characterized the Carmelite Order. At the same time, mindful of the hardships of convent life, she also sought to balance that austerity with a measure of alegría, or joyfulness. As a means of enlivening the atmosphere of the convents she had founded, she composed coplas, or poems, meant to be sung at daily recreations, and encouraged her fellow Carmelites to do the same. Researchers have shown that this practice was maintained in Spain until at least the early seventeenth century, but until now there has been little indication of this poetic tradition in other countries where Discalced Carmelite convents were founded. In this dissertation, poems composed in Carmelite convents in France, the Spanish Netherlands and later Belgium in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries are presented, demonstrating that the tradition begun by Teresa of Avila was actively carried on by the French, Flemish and Belgian Carmelite women who joined Teresa's order in the centuries following its foundation. Further, the presentation and analysis of these manuscripts shows that Carmelite poems adapted to new times and new circumstances, and began to function as historical documents, defenses of convent life and as a means of expressing resistance to anti-clerical hostility, notably during the French Revolution. These poems also serve to establish a literary link between "La Grande Thérèse" and "La Petite Thérèse", as Teresa of Avila and Thérèse de Lisieux are often called in French Carmel. A clear arc of poetic activity that reaches from sixteenth-century Spain in the time of Teresa of Avila to nineteenth-century France in the time of Thérèse de Lisieux is now visible, and the broader meaning and function of poetry in the convents of Carmelite women is made clearer.
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:French and Italian

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