Juana de Asbaje: A Preview

Gregorio Luke returns to Santa Ana this Friday to lecture on Juana de Asbaje, the illustrious Late Renaissance poetess turned nun who took the name Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.

Sor Juana was born in San Miguel de Nepantla, Estado de México (Mexico State). Information is readily available at sources like Wikipedia, or better yet, Dartmouth University’s Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Project. You can also listen to and download recitations of some of her works in their original language at the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s (UNAM) site, Descarga Cultura.

There are a few tidbits on her life that aren’t mentioned much, for example, it is not commonly known that she authored a treatise on music theory which she called the Caracol, probably in relation to the harmonic circle of fifths and its sonic hierarchy, or in reference to the shape of a conch shell. Caracol has various meanings in Spanish, it is at times used in the context of concha de caracol (conch shell). Of course, this is not the space to delve too deeply into her theory of the musical Caracol.

She was revolutionary and progressive not only in her thinking and her feminist views, but also in her creative writing. She composed in the villancico poetic genre, using African and Aztec wordplay. The type of villancicos using African wordplay were called “negrillas“, and the type using the Aztec Nahuatl language were called “tocotines” or “indios.”

Luke always puts on an effective, thorough and powerful presentation full of anecdotes and rare facts, it will be interesting to see what he has to say on Sor Juana this Friday.

About Gregorio Luke

Gregorio Luke is an expert on Mexican and Latin American art and culture. Mr. Luke has presented over 1,000 lectures in museums and universities throughout Mexico, Europe and the United States in institutions such as the Library of Congress, The Smithsonian Institution, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Art, and Universities such as Harvard, Columbia, UNAM and Georgetown, among others.

He is the former Director of the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, former Consul of Cultural Affairs of Mexico in Los Angeles and the First Secretary of the Embassy of Mexico in Washington D.C.

In 1995, Luke was honored with the Irving Leonard Award by the Hispanic Society of the Library of Congress. In 2005, The Ebell Club of Los Angeles honored him with a Life-time Achievement Award. In 2006, Luke received the El Angel Award by the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts and in 2007 he was recognized by CATE (California Association of Teacher’s in English) for promoting literacy in public schools.


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