When it appeared in 1989, Untold Sisters was the first general introduction to Hispanic convent culture published in the United States. Since then, much has been learned about the links among women of differing cultures, orders, and convents, their networks and support systems, their conflicts and rivalries.
Most nun-authors lived in convents and were subject to multiple mechanisms of control. They found ways to negotiate, however, the repressive machinery of ecclesiastic and state institutions. Untold Sisters underscores how role models such at St. Teresa of Avila aided nun-authors in intertwining their personal beliefs with dogma, regardless of their social situations. At the same time that they wanted proximity to God, they sought to authorize speech, both oral and written.
Historical changes and geographical distance alter the meanings of written words. The language used by the nuns was common to the writers' regions, generations, and even their particular religious orders. Without this knowledge, it is easy to mistake words or modes of expression--quite common or particular in meaning to an entire community, city, or epoch--as unusual or original.
As in the first edition, the authors first study and then anthologize some representative nuns' writings, which are presented in modernized Spanish and English. Revealed here are the contradictions of female monastic life: repression and liberation, obedience and rebellion, conformity and individuality.