Transgresión, transformación y paradoja en las aventuras transatlánticas de la Monja Alférez, Doña Catalina de Erauso contadas por ella misma

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Date
2013
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University of Alabama Libraries
Abstract

This dissertation concentrates on three main areas related to the life and adventures narrated in Vida i sucesos de la Monja Alférez, the autobiography of Catalina de Erauso, the Lieutenant Nun, who escaped from a convent, reconfigured her self-image and, dressed as a man, joined the Spanish Army in the conquest of México and Perú. With her escape and subversive self-engendering, Erauso abandoned the private spheres of the home and convent mandated by the patriarchy and obtained freedom, agency, and historical relevance. First, I examine her transformation into the author/narrator/protagonist subject she became with the writing of her autobiography, a hybrid product that includes elements of other genres; her work is analyzed to address questions of veracity, authenticity, and possible mediation of others in this text that many consider apocryphal for lack of an original manuscript. Also, I examine her text from the perspective of criticism received for the inclusion of ficcional passages, to contradict such claims based on research in autobiographical studies that consider fiction a constitutive element of any autobiography. Second, the focus encompasses the subversion of social law and patriarchal authority that reshaped her into the transgressive subject through her escape, life as a transvestite woman-soldier, lesbian tendencies, and appropriation of masculine territory with the writing of an autobiography designed to obtain remuneration from the Spanish Crown for her military services, and permission from the Pope to live legally as a man. I also examine her transvestism as mask and as instrument of construction of her masculine personality; issues of gender identity and generic imitation; the symbolism of clothing; the socio-cultural factors contributing to the success of her enterprise; and why Erauso was never punished for her transgressions. Finally, I focus on Erauso as the famous individual she became in her lifetime, acclaimed by the eminent and powerful after her transvestism became public. I explore the socio-cultural phenomenon she became and list some cultural products inspired by her life and autobiography such as plays, novels, films, and contemporary popular and academic essays, all of which are testimony to her power to stand the test of time.

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Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Keywords
Literature, Latin American literature, Women's studies
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