This essay analyzes poetry and other writing by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz in the context of themes from Greco-Roman antiquity and the historical development of medicine in seventeenth century New Spain, now Mexico. Sor Juana’s El Primero Sueño, a Spanish language poetic silva, exhibits copious references to writers from classical antiquity, including Aristotle and Ovid. Establishing a context steeped in ideas from Greco-Roman antiquity, Sor Juana invokes the medical and philosophical legacy of foundational physician Galen of Pergamon. She also expands upon his ideas into the human anatomical realm, reflecting the increased early modern prominence of the writings of Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius. Sor Juana’s ideas on medicine and anatomy, particularly within the wider context of seventeenth century New Spain, provide useful context for the final, controversial period of her life. An investigation into Sor Juana’s classical learning and literary conception of medicine, alongside her biography and eventual work as a healer, are used as the basis for a novel framework for better understanding the inscrutable, penitent last years of her life.
"The History of Early Modern Medicine in New Spain, El Primero Sueño, and Poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz,"
Grand Valley Journal of History: Vol. 7
, Article 5.
Available at: https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/gvjh/vol7/iss1/5
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