Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2019

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Romance Languages and Literature: Hispanic Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Miracles and Portents: Event, Corporeality and Ethnicity in New Spain (Mexico) studies the concepts of miracle and portent as modes and codes of differentiation and representation of diverse social sectors. Through the examination of treatises on idolatry, inquisition cases related to subjects of African ancestry, and studies on astronomy, I argue that the interpretation of extraordinary events made by the imperial institutions of power impacted not only the imaginaries, but also the behaviors deployed by indigenous peoples, afrodescendants, and creoles. From 1600 to the celebration of the IV Provincial Council of 1771 and the Promulgation of the first Royal Pragmatic in 1776, I focus on acts such as the proliferation of healing practices by indigenous sorcerers, as well as the introduction of African to New Spain, whose habits weakened the inquisitorial power, in order to mark an era of contradictions to Christian dogma. Likewise, the interest aroused by creole subjects in respect to natural phenomena, such as weather predictions, and how they delineated baroque and scientific profiles in colonial Mexico. In my dissertation, I build a genealogy of the concepts of miracle and portent, by tracing their use in literary and cultural materials published in the transatlantic world (16th to 18th century). By highlighting these concepts and their interpretations, a long-term social and religious transformation was established in the most important Spanish institutions: The Church and the Inquisition. Under the critical frameworks of the concepts of “event,” “colonial situation,” “ethnic resistance,” and “transgressive knowledge,” I demonstrate that institutional texts displayed a change in the interpretation of the divine, the human, scientific thought, and popular belief. My research findings contribute to our understanding of the confluence of discourse and otherness, performance studies, and baroque aesthetics, by focusing on the examination of religious categories and their connection to corporeality.


Spanish (es)

Chair and Committee

Mabel Moraña

Committee Members

William Acree, Carlos Jauregui, Stephanie Kirk, Miguel Valerio,


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