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Monday, August 8, 2011

William Stark's (Religion and Identity) Post

Two Women across the Cultural Divide: the Tolerance of Intolerance
As iconic figures of American history, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Anne Marbury Hutchinson stand in stark contrast to one another. Comparing these two outstanding women invites many burning questions. When we cross national, linguistic and cultural divides, such an association reminds us that historically America has represented, and continues to represent, many things to many people. It recalls for us that we all occupy other selves and different geographies.
When we consider the cultural implications and historical narratives of Anne Hutchinson of New England and Sor Juana of New Spain, the veil that separates geopolitical, cultural, religious and linguistic perspectives lifts to reveal two women whose lives and works figure prominently in discussions concerning the conflict of authority with intellectual liberty and religious tolerance in America. Narratives that recall details of their lives also emphasize both women’s ties to issues of gender and feminist rights as they have developed historically in America.
                 Ultimately, this examination traces a line in space that extends from north to south: from Portsmouth, Rhode Island to Mexico City; and in time: from the twilight of the Elizabethan age to the present.

William Stark, Department of Modern and Classical Languages, University of Rhode Island.


  1. Hi William,

    I don't know about Sor Juana, but I am very interested in Anne Hutchinson. I often call her one of the first feminists in America, though she wasn't really "feminist" as such. I'll be interested to hear more about Sor Juana. I am particularly interested to see how the narratives connect, intersect, or run parallel across all the borders you mention.

    All best,
    Laura D'Amore
    Roger Williams University

  2. Hi Laura,

    I look forward to talking about Hutchinson and Sor Juana at the Conference in November. When I first set out to write this paper, I was in the middle of reading the works of Sor Juana. I knew little to nothing about Anne Hutchinson beyond the requisite "founder of Portsmouth" narratives, although I have lived on Aquidneck Island for nearly 15 years.
    The idea to compare the two women came up at a dinner party. I was talking about the intestinal fortitude and extraordinary literary intelligence of Sor Juana, a woman writer whose back had been up against the Inquisition at a time when writing was frowned upon by the Church and the Crown. I referred to Sor Juana as the first "feminist" of America. My wife, a native of Portsmouth, told me to look into Anne Hutchinson, contending that Anne was the first "feminist". That moment set me off.
    In Two Women across the Cultural Divide: the Tolerance of Intolerance, it is my intention to read across real and artificial borders of North and South, Catholic and Protestant and national and gender specific identities to reveal that truth, liberty and equality are concepts that transcend judgments based upon circumstance and cultural identity.
    I hope we will get the chance to meet at the conference. Thank you for your comment.