Ana Garriga Espino


Marcel Bataillon Fellow

Brown University

Epistemologies of the cloister: scientific and technical knowledge in the convents of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries



Ana Garriga received her Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid with a thesis entitled “Teresa de Jesús en el laberinto de sus cartas” (Teresa of Jesus in the labyrinth of her letters). In this research, philological criticism and literary-historical analysis came together with tools from cultural studies, microhistory, material culture and transatlantic studies to demonstrate that the editorial transmission of Teresa de Jesús’s epistolary collection was a key element in understanding the construction of female sanctity and the strategies of authority deployed by nuns in the Counter-Reformation.

Between 2016 and 2023 she completed her training at Brown University, where she carried out a study on the poetic and linguistic revolution of the early seventeenth century read against the backdrop of alchemical and economic discourses. She has published articles in journals such as Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, Edad de Oro and Revista Hispánica Moderna, among others. She also works for the transfer of knowledge with the podcast “Las hijas de Felipe”.


Research project 

This project studies the existence of a conventual epistemology that, in the intimacy of the cloister, advanced in parallel to imperialist expansionism between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. Both the critical premise that understands convents as permeable spaces and the academic tradition that looks at conventual writing as a paradigmatic example of the construction of female subjectivity have tended to forget the technical, scientific and economic appropriations that permeated nuns’ domesticity and literature. 

The intention is to fill this critical gap and demonstrate how the nuns’ referential palimpsests went beyond theological and spiritual frameworks and also included a lexical and conceptual corpus borrowed from cosmography, natural philosophy, mathematics, economics and alchemy. By resorting to this scientific patina, the nuns writers managed, on the one hand, to underpin their spiritual and visionary rhetoric with fields of knowledge that also dealt with puzzling phenomena and, on the other, to develop a sense of community belonging by inscribing themselves in the discursive and political logics of the time.


Selected publications

- 2023. “Materiales para acercar mundos: América en los escritos de Teresa de Jesús”. Revista Hispánica Moderna, 76.1, pp. 1-22.

- 2022. “Potable Gold: Alchemical Discourse, Medicine, and Religion in Early Modern Spain”, in Rebekah Compton and Donato Verardi (eds.), Magical Materials in Renaissance Philosophy, Literature, and Art, Agora & co. Arcana Naturae Series, pp. 138-162.

- 2021. “La lactancia, la caza y la cocina: una nueva mirada al espacio materno en Furtivos de José Luis Borau (1975)”, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 98.2, pp. 159-177.

- 2015. “El desafío editorial de las cartas de Teresa de Jesús”, Edad de Oro, 34, 2015, pp. 135-153.



08/05/2018 - 30min 18s - Français