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Sor Juana/Música

How the Décima Musa Composed, Practiced, and Imagined Music

Pamela H. Long

In her lost treatise on music which she titled El caracol, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz addressed the image of the spiral as a metaphor for musical harmony, an image which she distilled in one of her romances. Singing in the choir of the Templo de San Jerónimo, Sor Juana and the other nuns of her convent were raising the tone of their musica humana to be in accord with the music of the heavenly choirs, which the nuns were imitating in their singing. Octavio Paz theorizes a «triple interés» in music in Sor Juana’s works: «práctico, teórico, filósofico». Numerous poems allude to the theoretical and philosophical problems of music, resulting in many levels of metaphor and metonym concerning music, especially in the loas and villancicos. Not only does Sor Juana’s work address the metaphysical aspects of music, the musica speculative so popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but it broaches important questions on the practical applications of new theories of musical harmony: the musica practica. A talented poet, playwright, scientist, and mathematician, Sor Juana also explored musical instruments and theory. Sor Juana/Música investigates the musical aspects of Sor Juana’s literary achievements, exploring the dense metaphorical interplay of musical and literary images, and places her works within the musicological ambience of her time. With its interdisciplinary approach, Sor Juana/Música contributes not only to the understanding of Sor Juana’s literary works, but also to the degree that literature underpins the other arts as it illuminates the musicological times in which she lived.
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Baciyelmo

Theologies of Transformation in Don Quixote

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Pamela H. Long

This text examines the character of Don Quixote, the book describing his fictional exploits, and their implications in the theological realm as well as in the fictive, using Gónzalez and Maldonado’s definition of theology as "la explicación de la realidad cósmica" ["the explanation of cosmic reality"], including the identity and nature of God. The first chapter examines the implications of the basin-helmet in El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de La Mancha, in context with the historical and theological developments of the end of the sixteenth century. The second chapter looks first at the religious climate of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in Spain and the rest of Europe to tease-out the theological and ecclesiastical preoccupations that undergird much of the content in Don Quixote. The third chapter examines a few details from the life of Miguel de Cervantes in order to place him within the historical and literary context examined in the second chapter, and the fourth chapter examines chivalry as a mode of religious life. The fifth chapter then approaches various other characters, events, and discussions in the novel that carry religious content, and the sixth considers transformation, transubstantiation, and translation, using the topos of the baciyelmo as a metaphor for Cervantes.