Buried voices: Genres and types of female authorship during the Spanish American colonial period (sixteenth to eighteenth centuries)

Diana J de Hernandez, Florida International University


This dissertation analyzes various types of non-canonical texts authorized by women from a wide spectrum of classes and races in the Spanish colonies. The female voice, generally absent from official colonial documents of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteen centuries, left a gap in the complex subject of women's history and social participation. Through the study of personal letters, autobiographies, journals, court documents, inquisitorial transcripts, wills and testaments, edicts, orders, proclamations and posters, that voice is recovered. Thus, the Indigenous, Spaniards and African women and their descendants who lived during this period left their written legacy and proof of participation. Beginning with a thorough history of the native woman's interest in writing, this study focuses on how women of all social levels utilized the few means of writing available at their disposal to display a testimonial, critical and sometimes fictional narrative of their surroundings. This investigation concludes that it is necessary to change the traditional image of the passive women of the colonies, subjected to a patriarchal authority and unable to speak or grow on their own. The documents under study, introduced women who were able to self represent themselves as followers of the tradition while at the same time their writings were denying that very same statement. They passed from the private arena to the public one with discourses that confessed their innermost feelings and concerns, challenged the authority of the Inquisitor or the Governor, exposed their sexual freedom and transvestite narratives, successfully developed stratagems that challenged the official ideology of the oppressive religious environment and established their own authority reaching at last the freedom of their souls.

Subject Area

Latin American literature|Latin American history|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

de Hernandez, Diana J, "Buried voices: Genres and types of female authorship during the Spanish American colonial period (sixteenth to eighteenth centuries)" (2010). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3447444.