Katherine Smith

I am second-year DPhil student, funded by the Lincoln College Kingsgate Doctoral Scholarship in collaboration with Modern Languages. I completed my BA in Modern Languages (Spanish) and MSt in Medieval and Modern Languages at St Anne’s College, Oxford. My research interests lie in medieval and early modern Iberian and Spanish American religious women’s writing, with a specific focus on feminist readings. My DPhil thesis looks at the development of proto-feminist depictions of the Virgin Mary in five female writers from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century: Constanza de Castilla (d.1478), Isabel de Villena (1430-1490), Juana de la Cruz (1481-1534), María de Jesús de Ágreda (1602-1665) and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695). My project seeks to build a picture of Mary as an exemplary model utilised by these women to legitimise both their religious and secular intellectual activities, and therefore a powerful figure of female agency within their writing. I am highly motivated by a desire to break down the boundary between “medieval” and “early modern,” and wish to demonstrate a consistent line of imitation and influence between these writers.


I likewise am interested in queer readings of pre-modern texts, especially when within the sphere of religious writing. I co-run the Medieval Women’s Writing Reading Group at Oxford, with a hope to bring together those working on pre-modern women’s writing in other faculties and sub-faculties. 

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