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Fall 2007, 37:4, pages 453-480

The Historical Catalina Hernández: Inhabiting the Topoi of Femininst Historiography

Abstract: This article asserts the viability of key topoi in feminist historiography: first, to establish presence for everyday women rhetors, and second, to explore ramifications of their positioning within variant historical narratives. Catalina Hernández was one of six European women recruited to Christianize indigenous girls immediately following the military conquest of Mexico. Her letter to the civic judicial council seeking autonomy for her community of women teachers was perceived as sufficiently dangerous to warrant its deletion from the historical record and the subsequent "disappearance" of the writer herself; only excerpted accounts of Catalina's writing remain. I seek the historical Catalina Hernández in the sophistic mode, assaying four motives and four contexts for the production and reception of her letter.

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