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Dillenberger Lecture Series

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Center for the Arts & Religion at the GTU

2465 Le Conte Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94709

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Abbess as Alter Christus: Delineating Female Sanctity in Spain and Spanish America

Guest speaker: Dr. Cristina Cruz González (Associate Professor of Art History, Oklahoma State University)

Co-sponsored by the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion (BCSR) at the University of California, Berkeley.

Art history has approached female monastic culture in New Spain through the lens of crowned-nun portraiture, a late colonial genre that reaffirmed a nun’s position as a mystical Bride of Christ. This has led to scholarly neglect of female imitatio Christi and the ecclesiastical pretense exhibited by several early modern holy women in Spain and Spanish America. Using examples from Spain, Mexico, and Guatemala, this talk explores the various pictorial strategies for capturing and performing an alter Christus status in a transatlantic Spanish world. While I discuss the images from the standpoint of their theological origin and socio-political relevance (they surface during periods of female monastic reform), I also consider their optical demands and how they enlighten our understanding of a mimesis-imitatio correlation.

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Center for the Arts & Religion at the GTU

2465 Le Conte Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94709

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