A proposal of Saint Teresa de Ávila's rhetorical strategy in the twentieth chapter of Libro de la vida

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Abstract:

If we accept claims of her Jewish ancestry and her personal divine revelations, Saint Teresa de Ávila had plenty to conceal from a dominant Church. In Libro de la vida, the methods she uses to avoid any threat to her orthodox status within the Roman Catholic Church are many and varied, exemplified by the chapter in which she defines and describes her possibly heretical rapture (arrobamiento). Borrowing two epistemological terms from the philosopher Richard Rorty, we can trace those moments where Saint Teresa employs 'conversational justification' of belief in her status as a non-heretic contrasted with those where she uses first-person claims of an 'epistemological justification'. Saint Teresa manages to assimilate into conversation what would otherwise be a personal statement; she shifts the privileged representation of rapture from her own account to the readers' shared understanding.
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