The New Companion to Hispanic Mysticism

By Poska, Allyson M.; Kallendorf, Hilaire | Church History, March 2012 | Go to article overview

The New Companion to Hispanic Mysticism


Poska, Allyson M., Kallendorf, Hilaire, Church History


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The flourishing of mysticism in the Hispanic world attracted considerable attention during the early modern period and, in recent years, has been the subject of extensive study by scholars. In this new collection, Hilaire Kallendorf has brought together both younger and more established scholars in the field to show the breadth and depth of that scholarship. In the introduction, Kallendorf articulates a clear tension that pervades the collection. On the one hand, she explains how she hopes to "expand the mystical canon" (3). On the other hand, she wants to "introduce graduate students or new scholars" to the subject matter (3). As a result, the collection lacks continuity; however, some of the seventeen articles by scholars in Spanish literature, Religious Studies, History, and Music are better at achieving the first goal, while others succeed at the second.

Although Kallendorf hopes to "expand the mystical canon," not surprisingly, many of the essays deal directly or indirectly with the most well known mystic of the period, Teresa of Avila. Her mystical writings and the scholarship on her works provide the framework for most of the scholarship. Some of the authors like Luce Lopez-Baralt, focus solely on one aspect of Teresa's work. However, many of the authors are clearly working to "expand the mystical canon" either by looking at lesser-known figures like Cecilia del Nacimiento and Juana de la Cruz or by taking very different perspectives on what constitutes mystical activity. In his essay on religious autobiography, Francisco Durán López takes a very broad view of mystical activity, nearly equating all authors of spiritual autobiographies with mystics. Freddy Domínguez, in his study of María de la Visitación, sees mystical activity as the source of authority for an otherwise problematic holy woman. In contrast, Glyn Redforth focuses on the limitations of mysticism, arguing in his essay on Luisa de Carvajalthat that "a mystic must want to be seen as such" (294). Still others expand the canon by taking different approaches to mysticism and mystical writings. Christina Lee considers Cervantes's use of mysticism in his novel The Trial of Persiles and Sigismunda and Tess Knight looks at the presence of music in mystical writings. Both María Mercedes Carrión's study of the use of mudéjar elements and Maryrica Lottman's piece on the garden in Teresa's work focus on the relationship between mysticism and space. …

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