Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Enrico Mario Santí

Second Advisor

Dr. Moisés R. Castillo


This dissertation considers the intersection of aurality and visuality in seventeenth-century New Spanish poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’s (1648/1651-95) acoustico-poetic discourse. Prior scholarship has focused either on the author’s engagement with Western music theory and compositional practices or else the role of musical references in her works. This has resulted in the marginalization of Sor Juana’s engagement with sound through disciplines that are not strictly musical or poetic, including: acoustics, cognitive theory and visual art. I address these lacunae by considering such concepts as echo, reflection, Ear, Voice, musica poetica (links between music and rhetoric) and musical pathos within the poet’s canon. Throughout my readings, Athanasius Kircher’s encyclopedic musical treatises— Musurgia universalis (1650) and Phonurgia nova (1673), both of which circulated within New Spain during Sor Juana’s lifetime—stand out as important sources by which such ideas were transmitted. My approach sharpens extant scholarship on these topics and identifies two new influences within Sor Juana’s poetic world: Aristotelian theories of cognition and Kircher’s unique position on musica poetica. More generally, this dissertation engages emerging scholarship on Ear in the early modern world and thus responds to the critical limits of ocularcentrism.