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BOKSER, Julie A.

SUMMER 2010, 40:3, pages 224 - 268

Sor Juana's Divine Narcissus: A New World Rhetoric of Listening 

Abstract: While traditional rhetoric missed opportunities for potent change in the New World, alternative rhetorical theory nonetheless existed. This essay argues that a play by renowned nun Sor Juana In s de la Cruz is a source of protofeminist, New World rhetoric, prompted by multicultural seventeenth-century New Spain. Immensely respected by the dominant powers of Church and state, Sor Juana was also attuned to issues of nondominance because she was criolla and female. Her religiously orthodox Divine Narcissus is simultaneously a rhetoric of listening that rewrites classical rhetoric's focus on speaking within a community to attend to people at odds with one another. It highlights the need for Spaniards, criollas, and Mesoamericans to go beyond talking at one another, and instead listen with care. The Divine Narcissus is an important text in rhetorical theory, concerned with dominant and nondominant rhetors and audiences in early Mexican society.

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