More than Muses

Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón

Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón

An image from a work by Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón
From the first edition of the poetic anthology created by Pedro Espinosa Primera parte de las flores de poetas ilustres de España (1605)


Biography coming in two weeks.

Annotated Bibliography

Alcaide de la Vega, Juan. "Memoria y desmemoria en la literatura." Actas del VIII Simposio de Actualización Científica y Didáctica de Lengua Española y Literatura, vol. 7, no. 10, p. 52-55.

Juan Alcaide de la Vega’s symposium presentation adds a unique perspective to the study of Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón by introducing readers to her career within the context of a cultural history of literature in Antequera, Spain (where Fernández de Alarcón lived and wrote). Following a more general overview of literary production and consumption in Antequera, Alcaide centers the presentation on the development of the Spanish Baroque period and the key Antequeran figures who contributed to its formation through their poetry, for example Pedro Espinosa, Luis Martín de la Plaza, and, of course, Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón. He elaborates mostly on Fernández de Alarcón’s speculated romantic relationship with Pedro Espinosa, but likewise offers an analysis of the romantic themes and expressive culteranista style of (arguably) her most recognized poem, “Cansados ojos míos.” (Annotation by Marissa Luquette)

Bultman, Dana. "Góngora y Cristobalina Fernández en Córdoba: lucha de ingenios por el legado cultural de Santa Teresa de Jesús." Edad de Oro Cantabrigense: Actas del VII Congreso de la Asociación Internacional del Siglo de Oro (AISO) Robinson College, Cambridge, 18-22 de junio de 2005, Iberoamericana Vervuert, p. 119-25.

Dana Bultman’s article is essential in gaining a full understanding of the significance of Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón’s poetry and the development of her career and reputation in the literary circle of Antequera, Spain. Many anthologies and articles reference the “certámenes literarios,” or literary competitions, in which Fernández participated; however, Bultman’s article is one of the few sources that gives a detailed, historical narrative about the particular religious context in which many of these competitions took place. In this case, Bultman describes “las fiestas de Córdoba,” or the celebrations in Córdoba, that continued for eight days  in 1614 to celebrate the beatification of Saint Teresa of Jesus. As part of the celebration, literary competitions were held, inviting participants to honor Saint Teresa in numerous categories representing key events in her life. Fernández, as well as  illustrious Spanish poet, Luis de Góngora were both participants in this competition. Bultman compares the revolutionary approach of their submissions, both of which sought to defy the competition’s rules that Saint Teresa be represented as meek and docile, and honor her heroism and strength. Bultman argues that Fernández’s defiance was in this case (where she won first prize in the competition) and many others, a key factor in building her successful career.

Bultman, Dana. "The Early Modern Sonnet's Lessons of Petrarchism and Militarism." Calíope: Journal of the Society for Renaissance and Baroque Hispanic Poetry, vol. 11, no. 2, p. 33-43.

Dana Bultman’s article reflects on the literary tradition of the sonnet, particularly the Petrarchan sonnet which is often critically perceived as an allegorical vehicle used to reinforce the colonial divide between subject and object in the formation of the self through images directly related to the poet’s political and historical origins. Bultman first offers a detailed background of the interpersonal, cultural ramifications of the Petrarchan sonnet as a whole before settling into a rich discussion of the sonnet’s function in early modern Spanish poetry. Bultman suggests that more often than not, the Spanish sonnet functions as Petrarch’s model did, using amorous narrative or historical recollection as a method of internalizing class structures in the reader; however, in an analysis of “A la Batalla de Lepanto,” Bultman posits that Fernández uses the traditional sonnet structure and content as a way to ironically subvert patriarchal structures in society through an atypical feminist metaphor. (Annotation by Marissa Luquette)

Cueto, Juan Javier Moreau. "Nuevas propuestas sobre doña Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón, e Hipólita y Luciana de Narváez." Analecta Malacitana, vol. 29, p. 3-11.

Juan Javier Moreau Cueto’s article, rather than analyzing her poetic works, investigates one of the most critically debated pieces of missing information pertaining to Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón’s biography: her date of birth. Cueto approaches the question through the lens of Fernández’s baptismal records, suggesting that perhaps the challenge in identifying her date of birth is tethered to the common practice of baptizing one’s child beneath a distinct Christian name for church records, in this case, María. Cueto describes the succession of relevant, interconnected documents that arose under “María Fernández de Alarcón,” all of which contained the names of Fernández’s known family members, including her father and first husband. Due to Fernández’s poetic works being published under the name Cristobalina, Cueto cedes that even convincing evidence such as what he found in San Isidro, is still speculative at best, and in all likelihood will remain impossible to unequivocally attach to Cristobalina’s person. (Annotation by Marissa Luquette)

Molina Huete, Belén. "Nuevas flores poéticas de Pedro Espinosa y Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón: un reencuentro con olvidados poemas de certamen." Analecta Malacitana, vol. 26, p. 123-45.

Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón, though rumored to have written hundreds of poems throughout her career, has historically been reduced to the fifteen poems found in the 1605 and 1611 editions of Flores poéticas, and the Cancionero antequerano. These same fifteen poems serve to characterize Fernández’s work in all currently published editions of her poetry; however, Belén Molina Huete’s article indicates that some of Fernández’s poems previously classified as lost were recently recovered upon the discovery of another edition of Flores poéticas, compiled by Martín García Solana in 1637. Molina Huete describes the contents of the 1637 Flores poéticas, and provides additional insights into the organization and participants of Antequeran literary competitions that come from studying the 1637 text. Likewise, several unpublished poems by Fernández and her rumored lover, Pedro Espinosa, (respectively) are transcribed in the article with a brief analysis written about each work. (Annotation by Marissa Luquette)

Molina Huete, Belén. "Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón." Real Academia de la Historia, .

Belén Molina Huete’s brief profile of Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón provides biographical information regarding her personal life and artistic career. Initially, the reader is introduced to Fernández de Alarcón as a prominent member of Antequera-Granada’s poetic society who is dedicated to the cultist reformation of baroque lyrical poetry. The article then goes on to describe Fernández de Alarcón as a shockingly under-studied and under-preserved contemporary of Lope de Vega who was praised by Lope and many others for the vivid, colorful imagery of her Mannerist-style poems. In speaking to Fernández de Alarcón’s personal life, the reader is given an overview which includes details on her education, her marriages, her children, and her professional pursuits outside of poetry (for instance, a brief stint in legal writing). Molina Huete’s work gives the reader an excellent sense of those events and interests which shaped Fernández de Alarcón’s identity, and emphasizes the scope of her literary influence and social presence in the Golden Age of Spanish poetry. (Annotation by Marissa Luquette)

Mujica, Bárbara. "Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón: La 'Safo Española'." Women Writers of Early Modern Spain: Sophia’s Daughters, Yale UP, p. 116-25.

Bárbara Mujica’s chapter about Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón briefly outlines biographical details regarding Cristobalina’s personal and professional life, but is largely interested in examining the stylistic details of Alarcón’s poetry in comparison with the prominent poets of her time and geographical location as well as the customary practices of baroque poets as a whole. Apart from providing her reader with contemporary contrasts, Mujica takes care to identify the unique tendencies that shape Alarcón’s poetry and shed light upon her personal character and views religious, political, and philosophical. The end of the chapter includes a selection of Alarcón’s most popular pieces without adjoining analysis. (Annotation by Marissa Luquette)

Navarro, Ana. "Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón (1576?-1646)." Antología poética de escritoras de los siglos XVI y XVII, Editorial Castalia, p. 133-41.

Ana Navarro’s entry about Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón in this collection provides a brief biographical description of Fernández’s educational and philosophical upbringing as well as  her adult life, including marriages and professional achievements. There is also a selection of three poems, representative of the principle themes explored in Fernández’s published poetic work, such as feminine mystic figures of the Catholic church, and romantic love (although the romantic poem included in this edition is only representative of Fernández in the sense that it is one her most popular works. In actuality, it is the only poem concerning romantic love that scholars have identified in her collected publications). This edition is ideal for those who would like a glimpse of Fernández’s work for the purposes of contextualizing her amongst her contemporaries, as it includes the work of 20-30 other Spanish woman poets between the 16th and 17th century. (Annotation by Marissa Luquette)

Osuna, Inmaculada. "Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón y la poesía de circunstancias." Studies on Women’s Poetry of the Golden Age: Tras El Espejo La Musa Escribe, Boydell & Brewer, p. 123-48.

Inmaculada Osuna’s article describes the circumstances of Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón’s that on a primary basis provided her acceptance in Antequera’s literary circle and allowed for her participation therein, and on a secondary basis, limited the content as well as the method of approach available to her for expressing herself as a poet. Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón rose to the level of being praised by Lope de Vega himself largely as a result of her participation in literary competitions. Osuna suggests that the stipulations of the competitions alongside the critical reception of her work by her male colleagues influenced the thematic content of those poems written outside the literary competitions as well, noting that the full scope of her poetic talents and creative desires were likely not evidenced in the work that we study today. Osuna argues that the literary platforms available to women as well as the necessity of positive critical reception to the continued nature of their work is an under-acknowledged limitation for women writers like Fernández. (Annotation by Marissa Luquette)

Serrano y Sanz, Manuel. "Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón ." Antología de poetisas liricas, vol. 1, Real Academia Española, p. 283-304.

Manuel Serrano y Sanz provides readers with one of the most ample selections of poetry by Cristobalina Fernández de Alarcón available in currently published anthologies of Spanish women poets. His entry is composed initially of biographical information, but goes on to include both Fernández’s poems as well as an historical and/or technical analysis of each one. Serrano y Sanz illustrates Fernández’s life not only through personal and professional developments, but ensures that readers have an idea of alternative sources that can be utilized to gain an understanding of her character and identity, such as speculated artistic representations of her person, and the critical reception of Fernández by her male contemporaries, such as Lope de Vega. This edition is ideal for those who want an in-depth survey of her poetic works and a detailed, organic presentation of her biographical stats. (Annotation by Marissa Luquette)


8 February 2024

Last Updated

9 March 2024