Sor Juana the Nun and Writer: Las Redondillas and The Reply

“Hombres necios que acusáis
a la mujer sin razón,
sin ver que sois la ocasión
de lo mismo que culpáis”

---from Las Redondillas, Sor Juana Inés de la Cru

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, the first great Latin American poet, is still considered one of the most important literary figures of the American Hemisphere, and one of the first feminist writers. In the 1600s, she defended her right to be an intellectual, suggesting that women should be educated and educators and accusing men of being the cause of the very ills they blamed on women. Examples of her voice on these matters are present in Las Redondillas of 1689 (also called A Philosophical Satire, available through the EDSITEment-reviewed website LitGloss), and in her autobiographical letter, finished in March, 1691, La Respuesta a la muy ilustre Sor Filotea de la Cruz. (La Respuesta or The Reply is available through the Proyecto Ensayo Hispánico website.)

The Reply was written in response to attacks against her by a supposed friend, the Bishop of Puebla, Manuel Fernández de Santa Cruz, using “Sor Filotea de la Cruz” as a pseudonym. In it, Sor Juana defends her right to intellectual freedom as a woman and as a nun while affirming her dedication to her literary duties. This lesson plan will help students study both Las redondillas, an arraignment of men for what Sor Juana believed was hypocritical behavior, as well as her autobiographical Reply to the Very Illustrious Sor Philotea de la Cruz. These two documents will help them to understand why Sor Juana has been called the first feminist of the New World.

(Click here for the Spanish version of this lesson plan)

Guiding Questions

Why is Sor Juana called by some “the first feminist” of the New World?

How do Las Redondillas and La Respuesta support calling Sor Juana “a feminist”?

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson, students will be able to: Understand how gender has historically affected literary creation, particularly women’s writing

Identify and effectively analyze poetry of the Spanish Golden Age, in particular the redondillas

Read and comprehend autobiographical texts in Spanish

Analytically write in Spanish about literature using the appropriate language.