Through Cracks in the Wall

Modern Inquisitions and New Christian Letrados in the Iberian Atlantic World


Recent comparative, interdisciplinary scholarship has underscored the Inquisition’s function in the imperial and colonial Iberian world, particularly in relation to the development of modernity. This book illustrates and enhances these debates on the Inquisition’s relationship to imperialism, colonialism, and modernity through specific case studies of New Christians who became the target of the Inquisition. Drawing on research in the archives of the Spanish and the Portuguese Inquisition in different parts of the Iberian Atlantic World, it analyzes literary writings and inquisitorial testimonies produced by individuals of Jewish heritage who lived in the Iberian Atlantic world during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and brings to light the direct and mediated discourse produced by New Christians, revealing the still veiled contributions of an important but understudied ethnic and social group.

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Lúcia Helena Costigan, Ph.D. (1988) in Spanish, University of Pittsburgh, is Associate Professor of Spanish and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Cultures at the Ohio State University. She has published extensively on Colonial Latin American Literatures, and on Early Modern Luso-Brazilian and Peninsular literatures and cultures.
"A work brimming with insights and helpful perspectives." Jonathan Schorsch, Hispanic American Historical Review Vol. 91, No. 4 (November 2011) pp. 181-183.

This book adds a new dimension to Inquisition studies and historicized analysis of New Christian literature in Latin America and the author does a good job of offering historical contextualization of the literature, some of it published, some of it manuscript and largely forgotten, placed in archives. The book will appeal to colonialists, both historians and literary scholars, and should have some good use in graduate seminars on topics related to colonialism, the Atlantic world and the Inquisition.
Martin Nesvig, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, Volume LXXXVIII, No. 4 (June 2011), pp.617-618

Introduction: Portugal, Portuguese America and New Christians: A Missing Link in Iberian and Colonial Latin American Studies
I. The Modern Inquisition in Portugal: A Spanish Imposition
II. New Christian letrados and the Inquisition in the Spanish and Portuguese Americas

1. Luis de Carvajal, the Younger, and the Inquisition in New Spain Under Philip II
I. From Victim of the Holy Office to Transformed Subject
II. Carvajal’s Stand and Mediated Voice in the First Trial Proceeding
III. Self-Fashioning and Public Voice through Literary Discourse
IV. Carvajal’s Second Trial
V. Carvajal’s Letters and Testamento

2. Bento Teixeira: A New Christian Caught by the First Visit of the Inquisition to Brazil
I. From Poet and School Teacher to Prisoner of the Holy Office
II. In the Cells of the Lisbon Inquisition
III. Bento Teixeira’s Prosopopéia: Text and Context

3. Ambivalent Acts of the Inquisition toward New Christians in the Seventeenth-Century Iberian Domains
I. Spanish Conversos and Portuguese cristãos-novos in Seventeenth-Century Portuguese America and the Spanish American Colonies
II. Ambrósio Fernandes Brandão and his Diálogos das grandezas do Brasil
III. Dawn and Dusk of Brazil as Terra da Promissão
IV. Manuel Beckman and the Levante do Maranhão

4. The Inquisition and Eighteenth-Century Portugal: The Case of Antônio José da Silva
I. Framing Antônio José da Silva’s Case
II. Glimpses of Antônio José da Silva’s life through his First Trial
III. Embracing Literature and Theater after His First Trial
IV. From Abjuration to Second Incarceration
V. Resistance Through Writing
VI. In Search of Possible Answers


Manuscript Sources
All those interested in comparative literature and culture, imperial and colonial studies, modern Inquisitions in the Iberian Atlantic World, Sephardic Jewish and New Christian studies.