Cosponsored Event

“You Imagine Me and I Exist”: The Afterlives of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648–1695)

Friday, November 22, 2019–Saturday, November 23, 2019
10:00 am PST – 3:00 pm PST

Royce Hall, Room 314
10745 Dickson Plaza

A two-day symposium and dramatic prequel to the world premiere of the new opera Juana

Friday, November 22, 2019, 10:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 23, 2019, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

UCLA Royce Hall, Room 314

Co-sponsored by UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music; UCLA College of Letters and Science, Division of Humanities; UCLA Center for 17th– & 18th-Century Studies; UCLA Center for Musical Humanities; UCLA Division of Social Science; UCLA LGBTQ Studies; UCLA Cesar Chavez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies; UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center

Visit the symposium’s website to register, view the full schedule, and purchase tickets for Juana: []

Although Sor Juana is not well known in the United States, she is hailed in Europe and Latin America as the Latina “Tenth Muse” and the “first feminist of the Americas.” Sor Juana is legendary today for her passionate defense of a woman’s right to be a scholar and to publish her work. In her lifetime, Sor Juana was relentlessly persecuted for her genius and her defiance of the Catholic Church’s dictates regarding the female sex. Because she refused to abide by these limitations, and because she had the support and backing of the Viceregal court, at least until 1688, Juana’s celebrity flourished, and she saw two volumes of her collected works published in Spain. In 1694, to mark her 25th anniversary as a “bride of Christ,” Sor Juana renounced her scholarly life, her extensive library, and her correspondence with the world and renewed her vows to the Hieronymite order in a document she signed in her own blood. She died a year later, in 1695, while caring for her fellow nuns during an epidemic. What happened to this most accomplished and rebellious of colonial women, this most enlightened mind of the Spanish Golden Age? Why did she forsake everything that had given meaning to her cloistered life?

This two-day symposium is a dramatic prequel to the opera Juana that explores the multiple “afterlives” of Sor Juana, i.e., the many ways in which the famous/infamous nun has been representedfrom 17th- and 18th-century visual and literary portraits to 20th- and 21st-century historical novels, poetry, plays, films, musical performances, visual arts, and even a Netflix mini-series. The title of the symposium, “You Imagine Me, and I Exist,” comes from the English translation of an unfinished poem that was found in Sor Juana’s cell after her death in 1695 (proving that she never stopped writing). It was addressed to her supporters in Spain, and she was thanking them for “breathing another spirit into [her],” that is, giving her work new life by representing her, not as she wasa nun struggling (as she put it) to “learn more [and] be ignorant about less”but as they wanted to imagine her: a great intellectual, a sublime poet, a phoenix rising from the ashes.

This symposium will provide the campus community at large, as well as the broader Los Angeles community, an opportunity to learn about the life, history, and culture of Sor Juana, the enigmatic subject of the opera, and to listen to the music produced in colonial Mexican convents.