Cover image for St. Teresa of Avila : author of a heroic life
St. Teresa of Avila : author of a heroic life
Slade, Carole.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [1995]

Physical Description:
xxii, 204 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
"A centennial book"--P. preceeding half t.p.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BX4700.T4 S63 1995 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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With few exceptions, representations of Renaissance women were created by men. The Spanish saint, Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), who chose to represent herself, was one of those exceptions. What prompted her to write Book of Her Life, Interior Castle , and other works? What does the self-portrait of this sixteenth-century nun, mystic, and founder of convents reveal about its author, the church, state, and role of women?

St. Teresa of Avila , an innovative analysis of Teresa's autobiographical writings, explores these and many other questions. Bringing to bear a knowledge of Inquisition studies, theory of autobiography, scriptural hermeneutics, and hagiography, Carole Slade defines Teresa's writings as a project of self-interpretation undertaken mainly as the result of the perceived, later realized, threat of an accusation of heresy. Being female and of paternal Jewish ancestry, Teresa was vulnerable to such a charge.

Teresa's writing project presented her with serious difficulties. Judicial confession, her prescribed genre, presumed the writer's guilt, while the subordinate female script precluded a defense against the suspicion that her mystical experiences came from the devil. Through careful textual analysis, Slade demonstrates that Teresa exploited the nuances of numerous genres--hagiography, New World chronicle, mystical theological treatise, and early novel--to create an innocent textual persona and depict herself in heroic terms.

A signal contribution to our understanding of Teresa's rhetorical and literary talent and life circumstances, this book will engage readers across a broad range of disciplines.

Author Notes

Carole Slade teaches in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.