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This dissertation examines the John of the Cross' (1542-1591) construction of a uniquely "Discalced Carmelite identity" in his writings, with particular emphasis on his works, the Ascent of Mount Carmel and the Dark Night. The focus of this study is placed on John's interpretation of Teresa of Avila's version of Discalced reform that she founded, with its special emphasis on reform as the quest for mystical union with God at the center of the Carmelite soul. To this end, John appropriated scholastic, monastic, apophatic and erotic traditions to define the reform, and to distinguish it from the many competing identities in sixteenth century Spain. Previous studies have examined John's construction of the self within theological, philosophical and literary contexts, and have located many of the influences on John and Teresa's conception of the self, its structures and trajectories. As this dissertation reveals, however, most of the studies on John, unlike so many recent studies done on Teresa, fail to embed his texts in the thick context of his historical world. This study seeks to link John's unique conception of the self and its construction with the many related conversations in Spain to which John was privy. Of particular importance to this study is the impact of this context with John's attempt to trace a Discalced Carmelite identity capable of bearing the weight of a Teresian model of reform.
Spain, Carmelites, Teresa of Avila, Apophatic, Asceticism, Mysticism, Eros
Date of Defense
December 12, 2008.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Religion in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
John Corrigan, Professor Directing Dissertation; Nancy Warren, Outside Committee Member; Amanda Porterfield, Committee Member; John Kelsay, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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