In de herhaling ontstaat iets nieuws. Agency in het discours van Teresa van Avila


  • Bibi Straatman


In this contribution, the spiritual and textual innovations in the work of Teresa of Avila are questioned. If we are not to consider Teresa as a revolutionary writer, nor as a cultural dupe, disciplined by the patriarchal power of the catholic orthodoxy, what is it, that can make her texts of interest for nowadays readers? The author uses the concept of iterability (Butler, 2000; and Derrida, 1972) and that of repetition as a productive source (Lacan, 1976) to re-open the discussion on mystical texts. She argues that Teresa’s discursive agency can be found in the re-appropriation of certain rhetorical tropes such as the ‘mystical experience’, and the ‘(inner) conversation’ as methods in a new configuration of science. The mystical movement of the 16-th century is mostly regarded as a literary genre, or at best as an unfortunately disqualified form of knowledge. With Mignolo (2000), Foucault (1976) and De Certeau (1986) however, Teresa’s texts are diagnosed as a new locus of enunciation, and as a particular local, regional knowledge, incapable of unanimity, not open for the procedures of falsification, but still interesting. Teresa’s texts can be seen as a testimony of non-hegemonic experience, but moreover they can provide inspiration for the actual epistemological debate in social science, post colonial studies and cultural studies, were agency is to be re-interpreted (Mahmood, 2005) and new methodes such as ‘conversation’ (Mignolo, 2000) are discussed.