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Solicitation Stories: Reading Confession between History and Literature

Abstract

Taking the problem of solicitation in confession as its focus, this essay examines a late eighteenth-century Mexican confession manual. Like this volume's other close readings of the same primary text, which were undertaken by a range of scholars working on early modern history and culture, this essay seeks to model scholarly methods and presuppositions for an audience of students interesting in pursuing their own archival research.

Kimmel, Seth. “Solicitation Stories: Reading Confession between History and Literature.” Imagining Histories of Colonial Latin America: Synoptic Methods and Practices, eds. Karen Melvin and Sylvia Sellers-García, Univerity of New Mexico Press, 2017, pp. 195–200.

This short essay is a close reading of a late eighteenth-century confession manual called Advertencias para los nuevos confesores. The text was produced for and by Carmelite confessors in colonial Mexico. My focus is on the section of the manual that addresses the problem of solicitation in confession, which includes an extended story about one particular episode of attempted seduction. By highlighting the narrative qualities both of this section of the Advertencias and the sacrament of confession more broadly, I aim to show how and why to marshal the tools of the literary critic in the realm of cultural history.

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