Immaculate Conceptions: The Power of the Religious Imagination in Early Modern Spain
Published: September 2019© 2019
280 Pages, 6.00 x 9.10 x 1.10 in, 25 b&w illustrations
Immaculate Conceptions examines devotional writings, religious and literary texts, and visual art that feature the mystery of the immaculacy of the Virgin Mary in the culture of early modern Spain. The author’s analysis is motivated by the complexity and multivalent capacity of the doctrine and its icon at a time when the debates around Mary’s conception imbued all levels of religious and social life. She considers the many interests – political, doctrinal, artistic, and gender-driven – that intersect and compete in the exegesis and textual and visual representations of the Immaculate Conception. She argues that the Immaculate Conception of Mary proved to be a fertile conceptual and ideological field wherein the identities of the Spanish state, local communities, and individuals were negotiated, variously defined, and contested.
The study’s broader aim is to delineate a speculative category, the religious imagination, defined as a spiritual, intellectual, or artistic pursuit in which the individual is committed to sacred truth yet articulates this truth through contingent, partial, and contextually determined theological propositions. The representational status of the image and its relationship to theories of physical sight and spiritual vision are central to the author’s formulation of this category.
List of Illustrations
1. The Anatomy of the Religious Imagination: Immaculacy and the Spanish Counter-Reformation
2. An Army of Peers: The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception for the Popular Imagination
3. Pintor Divino: The Painter as Divinely Inspired Liberal Artist and the Conditions of Representation for a Sacred Mystery
4. Visiones Imaginarias: Pacheco, Velázquez, Zurbarán, and Murillo
5. Concepción Maravillosa: Theological Discourse and Religious Women Writers
"Without questioning the sincerity of her subjects’ religious convictions, Hernández convincingly locates their religious imaginings within a larger political world and identifies their socio-political implications. In this way, she offers an account of the religious imagination which is not only productive for scholars of religious studies, but also for theologians and artists interested in self-reflexively examining the implications of their own work."Matt Schramm, Emory University, Religious Studies Review
"Rosilie Hernández’s knowledge of scholarship and primary sources is impressive, and she communicates it with intellectual rigor and stylistic grace. I know of no other study which brings together art, literature, politics, religion, and cultural theory around the issue of immaculacy and religious imagination."Darcy Donahue, Emeritus, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Miami University
"Hernández’s multidisciplinary approach is innovative, coherent, and given the treatment of the immaculacy question in the period, such a study has been sorely lacking."Dale Shuger, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Tulane University