California State University, Long Beach
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Author of the Month

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The Lives of Women: A New History of Inquisitional Spain

Lisa Vollendorf, Romance/German/Russian Languages and Literatures

Published in 2005 by Vanderbilt University Press, The Lives of Women: A New History of Inquisitional Spain incorporates Inquisition cases, biographies and women’s literature to reveal an unrecognized boom in Hispanic women’s writing between 1580 and 1700. During this period, more women wrote for the public book market and participated in literary culture than ever before. The rise in convents and female education contributed to an increase in texts produced by and about women in religious orders. Vollendorf argues that, in conjunction with Inquisition and legal documents, this wealth of writing offers unprecedented access to women’s perspectives on life in early modern Spain, and that those perspectives encompass diverse ethnic backgrounds and class differences. Many of the documents touch on issues of sex and intimacy. Others provide new ways of understanding religious practice. Vollendorf shows that the texts reflect a shared preoccupation with redefining gender and creating legitimate spaces for women. She is currently working on her next book titled Sex and the Law in the Hispanic World: 1,000 Years of Violence. In the fall of 2006, she received a Faculty Scholarly and Creative Activity Award to study “Christian, Muslim, and Jew: Gender and Religion in the Atlantic World (1600-1800).” She earned her B.A. in 1990 from Colorado State University and her M.A. in 1992 and Ph.D. in 1995 from the University of Pennsylvania. Since then she has enjoyed teaching and research topics related to early modern Spain, women’s intellectual and literary history, cultural studies and Inquisition studies. She served as an associate professor at Wayne State University. The Manhattan Beach resident joined the university in 2005.