Kathryn Joy McKnight


My research focuses on the voices of those who speak from the margins of colonial Spanish American society, particularly I look at how individuals and groups contest their portrayals by those in power. In The Mystic of Tunja: The Writings of Madre Castillo, 1671-1742 (U Massachusetts P, 1997), I examine the writings of a nun from the Nuevo Reino de Granada (Colombia) whose self-portrait brings out the conflicts between the gender limitations imposed on her, her access to power in governing the convent, and the intellectual opportunities she makes for herself through her writing. Currently, I am working on a long-term project to locate, study and publish stories that African-descent peoples in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish America told in administrative and Inquisitional trials. I have given conference papers, published articles, transcribed documents, and am co-editing the anthology Afro-Latino Voices: Documentary Narratives from the Early Modern Iberian World, which will begin to fill a significant void in colonial studies. These documents provide invaluable access to Afro-Hispanic visions of the societies in which they played central roles, in stories in which they varyingly express self-condemnation, alliance with power, protest and social critique.




The Mystic of Tunja: The Writings of Madre Castillo, 1671-1742. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997.



Winner of the 1997 Katherine Singer Kovaks Prize awarded by the MLA for an outstanding book published in English in the field of Latin American and Spanish literatures and cultures




Special issue of the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 5.3 (2004).




“Gendered Declarations: Three Enslaved Women Testify before Cartagena Officials (1634).” Colonial Latin American Historical Review 12.4 (2003) (published in 2006).


“Confronted Rituals: Spanish Colonial and Angolan ‘Maroon’ Executions in Cartagena de Indias (1634).” Special issue of the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 5.3 (2004). 53 paragraphs.


“‘En su tierra lo aprendió’: An African Curandero’s Defense before the Cartagena Inquisition.” Colonial Latin American Review 12.1 (2003): 63-84.


“The Diabolical Pacts of Slavery. The Stories of Two Mulatto Slaves before the Inquisition in New Spain.” Revista de Estudios Hispánicos 37 (2003): 509-36.


"Voz, subjetividad y mística en la Madre Castillo: Tres elementos de una escritura femenina conventual." Texto y Contexto (Bogotá) 17 (1991): 66-96.




“Colonial Religiosity: Convents, Nuns, Witches, and Heretics.” A Companion to Latin American Literature and Culture. Ed. Sara Castro-Klaren. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.


"The House of Trials and the Trials of Masters-Level Research.” Approaches to Teaching Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. Ed. Emilie L. Bergmann and Stacey Schlau. New York: MLA, 2007.


“Vida y Afectos de la madre Castillo.” Yo con mi viveza. Textos de conquistadoras, monjas, brujas, poetas y otras mujeres de la colonia. Ed. Luisa Campuzano and Catharina Vallejo. La Habana: Casa de las Américas, 2003. 121-26.


“Blasphemy as Resistance: An Afro-Mexican Slave Woman before the Mexican Inquisition." Women in the Inquisition. Spain and the New World. Ed. Mary Giles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. 229-53.


"Nexos del discurso femenino y la vida conventual de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz y Sor Francisca Josefa de la Concepción de Castillo." Memoria del Coloquio Internacional Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz y el pensamiento novohispano, 1995.  Ed. Instituto Mexiquense de Cultura Toluca, Estado de México, México, 1995. 241-52.



  Domination without Dominance: Inca-Spanish Encounters in Early Colonial Peru. Gonzalo Lamana. Durham: Duke UP, 2008. In Colonial Latin American Historical Review  15.3 (2006): 331-33. [published Oct. 2009]
  Poéticas de la restitución: Literatura y cultura en Hispanoamérica colonial. Ed. Raúl Marrero-Fente. In Bulletin of Spanish Studies 85.3 (2008).


Mapping Colonial Spanish America. Places and Commonplaces of Identity, Culture, and Experience. Ed. Santa Arias and Mariselle Meléndez. In Revista Iberoamericana 218-19 (2007): 369-74.


The Other Mexican Muse. Sor María Anna Águeda de San Ignacio (1695-1756). Eich, Jennifer. In The Catholic Historical Review 2.1 (2006): 143-44.


Slavery and Salvation in Colonial Cartagena de Indias. Margaret M. Olsen. In Revista de Estudios Hispánicos 39.2 (2005): 429-31.


Imagining Identity in New Spain: Race, Lineage, and the Colonial Body in Portraiture and Casta Paintings. Magali M. Carrera. In Colonial Latin American Historical Review 11.2 (2002): 203-04.


Colonial Angels: Narratives of Gender and Spirituality in Mexico, 1580-1750. Elisa Sampson Vera Tudela. In Colonial Latin American Historical Review 9.2 (2000): 306-08.


El sueño manierista de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Alessandra Luiselli. In Revista Iberoamericana 62.172-73 (1995): 735-38.





“Limón diverso: Narraciones de identidad y cimarronaje del Palenque del Limón en Cartagena de Indias (1634).” Desplazamientos y disyunciones: Nuevos itinerarios de los estudios coloniales. Ed. Stephanie Kirk. Pittsburgh: Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana, forthcoming.




Afro-Latino Voices: Documentary Narratives from the Early Modern Iberian World. Co-editors Kathryn Joy McKnight and Leo Garofalo. Hackett Publishing, December 2009.



  "African Transformations of Ibero-American Catholicism," American Studies Annual Meeting, Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 16-19, 2008.
  "African Queens in Colonial Quarrels," invited presentation, Feminist Research Institute, University of New Mexico, March 26, 2008.


"Convents, Gender, and Writing in Early Modern Spain and Spanish America,” invited presentation, Art History 429/529 Spanish Colonial Art, Instructor Raymond Hernández Durán, October 30, 2007, UNM.


“A Poetic Politics”, invited critical presentation of Fernando Garavito’s Práctica y Ambigüedad del Enemigo. Praxis and Ambiguity of the Enemy. Trans. Theo Walker. Santa Fe: Gaon, 2007. October 22, College of Santa Fe.


“The Rhetoric of Slavery in the Early Americas,” panel participant, Beyond Colonial Studies: An Inter-American Encounter, Providence, Rhode Island, November 4-6, 2004.


“Spinning the Violence: The Maroons of Limón Narrate Loyalty and Betrayal in Cartagena de Indias (1634),” First International Interdisciplinary Symposium of the Colonial American Studies Organization, Georgetown University, Washington DC, October 9-11, 2003.


“Blood Rituals in Cartagena de Indias (1634): Creoles, Angolans, Malenbas and Queen Leonor of the Palenque de Limón,” “Affirmations and Contestations: Interrogating the Connections between Africa and the African Diaspora. Conference of the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora, Northwestern University, Evanston, October 2-4, 2003.


“Discourses of Order and Voices of Alterity: The Testimonies of Negros Cimarrones in Cartagena de las Indias (1634), XXIVth International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, Dallas, March 27-29, 2003.


“Fugitives, Wars and New Identities in a New World: Slave Rebellions and Spanish ‘Capitulaciones’ in Sixteenth-Century Panama.” For the panel on Refugees and Migration in the Early Modern Period. Conference of the Modern Language Association, New York, December 27-30, 2002.


““Ha oído decir”: The Trial of Ana de Herrera, Mulata, and Her Hechicera Network in Colonial Veracruz,” Mid-America Conference on Hispanic Literatures, University of Kansas, Lawrence, October 4-6, 2001.


“Contested Identities: Afro-Mexican Slaves Exercising Power to Contest Knowledge in Inquisition Trials,” XXIII International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, September 6-8, 2001.


“Stories of the Devil and his Power: Afro-Mexican Slaves’ Representations of Themselves and Colonial Society,” Kentucky Foreign Language Conference, University of Kentucky, Lexington, April 19-21, 2001.


“Tall Tales of the Devil and Paradise: A Mexican Slave's Inversion of a Catholic Slave-Society Narrative,” Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, February 10, 2000.


"Feminine Spiritual Autobiography in Colonial Spanish America: A Problem of Historical and Cultural Embeddedness," Conference of the Northeast Modern Language Association, Pittsburgh, April, 1994.


"Madre Castillo's Biblical Mysticism: A Nun's Mask for a Priest's Prerogative." Kentucky Foreign Language Conference, Lexington, Kentucky, April, 1993.


"Saint or Sinner? Madre Castillo and the Troublesome Genre of the Vida Espiritual," Latin American Studies Association Conference, Los Angeles, September, 1992.


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