The Baroque has often been taken as a figure for Latin Americanism, but this identitarian reduction obscures the breadth of seventeenth-century positions. This talk will explore the development of a radical metaphysics in the works of two divergent authors, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Baruch Spinoza. Reading Sor Juana’s poetic masterpiece “Primero sueño” (c. 1691) together with Spinoza’s Ethics (1677) will elucidate divergent reactions to a shared Scholastic origin. Through this reading, the talk will propose that both Sor Juana and Spinoza arrive at anti-Enlightenment forms of freedom. Ultimately, it will argue that reading Sor Juana outside of a regional tradition is the key to her relevance to the present. Rather than returning us to origins, readings of late seventeenth-century poetry and thought may elucidate our continuing investment in the figure of freedom itself.
Anna More, Universidade de Brasília