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'En distintas cuadras': Engendering the Americas in Sor Juana's Los empeños de una casa

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date12/2002
JournalRomance Studies
Journal number2
Volume20
Number of pages10
Pages155-164
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The casa where the empeños take place in Sor Juana's play provides an image of the colonial society in which the play was written. Although the play emphasizes its being set in Toledo and Madrid, a study of its spatial politics shows how stage setting, plot and dialogue contribute to the negotiation of the notion of woman and the space assigned to her in Baroque Spanish America. The use of rooms and the characters' relationship to their environment in Los empeños illustrate that the casa is not only the abode or the lineage of a family. The characters in Sor Juana's play show displacement to be part and parcel of the social organization in which they find themselves immersed. The alienation they suffer from this dislocation is affected by Sor Juana's own position as a woman and a criolla. Like Sor Juana, the characters of Los empeños find themselves in a house that is not theirs. This space is delimited and configured by the gendered conventions that assign men a public space and confine women to the privacy of the house. The characters' particular locations are closely linked to their identity, the relationships with each other as well with the social status and gender identity that, ultimately, make this casa.