Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Romance Languages and Literatures: Latin American and Iberian Literatures (Hispanic Literature)


Spanish (es)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Stephanie Kirk


This dissertation addresses the construction of Andean subjectivity through the use of musical depictions in 16th and 17th century texts in which European chroniclers characterize the natives based on aspects of sonority, on rudimentary instruments or on musical practices that they considered as paganistic. Music classified as diabolical does not pass out of the category of noise in order to express savagery and disorder. In the grip of a fervent desire for the evangelization of the Andeans the Spaniards translated many sermons into native languages, and adapted the indigenous melodies dedicated to local deities by changing the lyrics so as to worship the Virgin Mary or Jesus. The performance of these "new" songs serves as a dynamic vantage point from which to explore models of transculturation. On the other hand, the natives devised several tactics to continue their own traditions by inserting them into new ones, thus converting this music into an art of resistance. The first chapter outlines the creation of the Incan Empire, aided in part by the songs that were composed to celebrate each military conquest, which at the same time contributed towards the preservation of memories that were passed down to successive generations. In the second chapter I study the introduction of music in the New World through war, heroism and religion. The third chapter is an analysis of the native's religious instructions. Clerics, through memoriales, instrucciones and other similar works, attempted to explain how their own failures compromised the expansion of Christianity, by not only identifying these mistakes, but also by proposing solutions. Among these were the translation of many important sermons into native languages, as well as, and especially, the use of song. Finally, the fourth chapter focuses on the biography of Gertrudes de San Ildefonso, a nun musician who lived during the seventeenth century in the convent of Santa Clara in Quito. An unpublished document that I discovered in this convent provides details not only about her personal life and her efforts to survive in a male world, but also about colonial life itself.


Romance Languages and Literature: Hispanic Studies

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