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Corporeal rhetoric and social order in the viceroyalty of New Spain: from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment

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Title: Corporeal rhetoric and social order in the viceroyalty of New Spain: from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment
Author(s): Hernandez-Torres, Yolopattli
Director of Research: Meléndez, Mariselle
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Meléndez, Mariselle
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Vázquez, Oscar E.; Irigoyen García, Javier; Arias, Santa
Department / Program: Spanish, Italian & Portuguese
Discipline: Spanish
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): New Spain colonial period corporeal rhetoric body race space religious conversion social order textual and visual representations.
Abstract: This dissertation examines the use of corporeal rhetoric in textual and visual representations of the colonial subject in New Spain. By corporeal rhetoric, I refer to the multiple ways in which the body is represented discursively to persuade readers in accordance with their personal agendas. In this dissertation, the body is understood as the material body, but additionally considered in its symbolical nature when it is related to systems of power and control. By focusing on the manner in which the body is utilized as a rhetorical device to depict New Spain’s political, cultural, and religious reality, I will demonstrate how the representation of the colonial subject through the body is intrinsically embedded in the construction of New Spain’s social order. This project encompasses a timeframe that ranges from 1579 to 1803, situating each work in relation to its historical, literary, and cultural tradition. The early writings are analyzed in light of the period traditionally denominated as “conquest”, in which corporeal rhetoric was employed by Spanish religious authorities to evangelize the Amerindian groups. In the early colonial period, the concept of social order was defined by the interaction of elements such as the enforcement of Catholicism carried out by the missionary men, as well as the Amerindian population’s adherence to these rules. The analysis of these texts suggests that the body of the missionary man embodies the Euro-Christian tradition. The tools they used in this process, written and visual, coexisted among the Amerindian cultures and sometimes clashed with their ancient traditions, especially the way in which the body is conceived by both cultures. The first chapter is devoted to the study of religious conversion of the Amerindian population and the manner in which the indigenous body works within that process in the illustrated book “Retórica cristiana” written by Diego de Valadés (1579). The second chapter analyzes the religious life of Sebastián de Aparicio, a Spanish man living in colonial Mexico who was the protagonist in the text “Vida y milagros del glorioso confessor de Cristo, Sebastián de Aparicio” (1629) by Bartolomé Sánchez Parejo. In this text, Aparicio’s body incarnates the characteristics of sainthood for the local community. In the written works of the late colonial period, corporeal rhetoric is associated with the body politic. These texts deeply rooted in the tenets of the Enlightenment correlate the physical and psychological health of the individual with the health of the body politic. My contention is that in the Mexican texts of the late colonial period, the concept of social order can only thrive through the attempt to categorize and objectify those colonial bodies that are in need of social control. Nevertheless, the diverse shape of the colonial population and the vast geographic areas that they inhabited make this political effort very challenging. Chapter 3 focuses on two legal documents: “Relación de la causa de Juana María, mulata. Esclava, mulata y hechicera” (1750), which describes the legal process of Juana María, a woman accused of practicing witchcraft. And also the legal process “María Rita Vargas y María Lucía Celis. Beatas Embaucadoras de la colonia” (1803). This chapter examines the dangerous connotations that civil authorities attributed to certain women of the late colonial period based on her religious practices, her sexual gender, and her racial background. Lastly, chapter 4 studies the political treatise “Enfermedades políticas que padece la capital de esta Nueva España” (1787), which demonstrates the interrelation between the body politic and the social order. Villarroel’s work evidences the relations between the health of an individual, the health of the entire population, and the measures of hygiene. His critique shows his interest in the promotion of the Bourbon reforms to heal the symbolic body of New Spain.
Issue Date: 2010-08-31
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/17020
Rights Information: Copyright 2010 Yolopattli Hernandez-Torres
Date Available in IDEALS: 2010-08-31
2012-09-07
Date Deposited: 2010-08
 

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