Melancholy, Love and Letters

International Congress on Soror Mariana Alcoforado (1640-1723)

Beja, Portugal - 15-17 November 2019

The obscure letters a nun from Beja, Portugal, wrote to her fugitive lover build a crescendo of longing, affliction and abandonment, refashioning the pristine motives of medieval Galician-Portuguese «songs of a friend» with a new baroque hypersensitivity. They have attained, since their unauthorized publication in 1669, 350 years ago, an improbable success throughout Europe and the world, sparking fashions, instigating literary and scholarly battles, and inspiring countless imitations and tributes.

About these poignant documents of hopelessness, everything has been questioned: the letters’ authorship and original language; their author’s sex and nation; the authenticity or artifice of the emotions they project; the veracity or fictionality of the biographical and topographic contexts they evoke. Scholars, polemists, literary critics and Mariana's devotees have put forward strong arguments in favor of various hypotheses concerning the text’s authorship, which have been raised, denied, reformulated, resumed, recombined, and joined also by a growing corpus of recreations that threaten to relegate the text itself to a faded background. Despite this fertile reception, or by virtue of it, Mariana's passion remains at the center of the gallery of Portuguese love myths, parallel to the tragedy of Pedro and Inês.

Three and a half centuries later, the time has come to rescue the text, reevaluate its authorship, and celebrate the inexhaustible fascination of its themes: volition and desire, expressed through the ancient practice of prayer; the penitent self-examination, trained in the rigorous discipline of confession; and the «contemptus mundi», root and pillar of the cloistered condition. Mariana's tribulations thus attain the full potential of the four canonical readings: the historical (the unhappy convent romance in Beja), the allegorical (the existential solitude of any individual), the moral (the desperation of lovers facing the impossibility of total union), and the anagogical (the lament of the soul, while abandoned in its earthly exile, yearning for its return to the Creator).

The Nova University of Lisbon, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and with the generous support of Beja Town Council, will hold an International Congress on Soror Mariana Alcoforado in Beja, on 15-17 November 2019, to mark the 350 years of the princeps edition of 'Lettres portugaises traduites en françois' (Paris: chez Claude Barbin, 1669). The Portuguese National Library will showcase a related bibliographical exhibition, among other celebrations in Beja, Lisbon and worldwide.

Keynote Speakers (plenarists): Anna M. Klobucka, Manuela Parreira da Silva, Filipe Delfim Santos


1st Day (15th November), morning

Conference opening: visit to the bibliographic exhibition on Mariana in the Portuguese National Library; departure to Beja; accommodation and lunch.

1st Day (15th November), afternoon

Tour of the Convent of Our Lady of Conception, where Mariana Alcoforado (signing Maria Anna Alcoforada) lived and died, and of the exhibition on Mariana's Life and Letters in the Regional Museum of Beja.

2nd Day (16th November)

Keynote address: Letters of unhappy love - Mariana Alcoforado (1640-1723), celebrating the 350 years of her Portuguese Letters (Paris, 1669); updates on the authorship controversy.

Love letters that last beyond love: other correspondences of grands amoureux and grandes amoureuses: from Abelardo and Heloisa to the present. See 'other topics' below.

Celebratory banquet. Readings of the Letters.

3rd Day (17th November)

Special Sections:

Florbela Espanca (1894-1930) - the 125th anniversary of 'Soror Saudade', the second Mariana. Mariana and Florbela, the blue voices from Alentejo.

Tribute to Luís Amaro (1923-2018), born in Aljustrel (Beja district), a poet, memoirist and tireless publisher of letters.

Return to Lisbon in the afternoon

Other topics suggested (but not limited to):

Mariana: the nun and the Lettres, longing, treason, resentment and sublimation; eminent Marianists: Luciano Cordeiro, Manuel Ribeiro, Belard da Fonseca, Leonel Borrela; Literature: epistolography, love letters, feminine voices vs. female authorship; the Baroque sorores - Santa Teresa de Ávila (1515-1582), Soror Violante do Céu (1601-1693), Soror Juana Inés de la Cruz (México, 1651-1695), Madre Maria do Céu (1658-1723), Madre Maria Perpétua da Luz (Beja, 1684-Beja, 1736); the French Grand Siècle: the Versailles court, the Parisian salons, the nouvelles galantes; the posterity of the nun: Júlio Dantas' Sóror Mariana Alcoforado and the Modernist quarrel over the play; Beja writers: Muhammad ibn 'Abbad al-Mu'tamid (1040-1095), Diogo de Gouveia (1471-1557), André de Gouveia (1497-1548), Frei Amador Arrais (1530-1600), José Agostinho de Macedo (1761-1831), Francisco Alexandre Lobo (1763-1844), Mário Beirão (1890-1965); Art: Baroque iconography, architecture, azulejaria (tile art), sculpture, painting, performing arts, ephemeral arts: culinary and pastry; Spirituality: Poor Clare nuns in Portugal and the Franciscan friars, prayer, confession, penance; life within the cloister: libraries and estates; History and Politics: the Portuguese Restoration Wars, The Victorious King Afonso VI and the government of Conde de Castelo Melhor; high treason and the King's trial; Charles II of Spain, the Bewitched; France under the Roi-Soleil and French politics in Portugal; Philosophy: hope and salvation, nostalgia and Saudade; Psychology: melancholy and the creative mind, subclinical and clinical depression, Masochism and Leidensgeschichten (narratives of suffering).

Honorary committee

  • PAULO JORGE ARSÉNIO, Mayor of Beja
  • with guest MARIA DO CÉU QUINTAS, Mayor of Freixo de Espada à Cinta
  • and other mayors of Alentejo towns

Scientific committee

Advisory committee (60 members)

Portugal (36):

  • ANA ALEXANDRA SEABRA DE CARVALHO, Universidade do Algarve
  • ANA LUÍSA VILELA, Universidade de Évora
  • ANA MARIA SEIÇA PAIVA DE CARVALHO, Universidade de Coimbra
  • ANA PAULA BANZA, Universidade de Évora
  • ANA TERESA PEIXINHO, Universidade de Coimbra
  • ANDRÉ OSÓRIO, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
  • ANITA GORETI ESTÊVÃO TINOCO, Head of Arquivo Distrital de Beja
  • ARLINDO JOSÉ CLEMENTE MORAIS, City ​​Councilor for Education, Sports and Youth, Beja
  • BETINA RUIZ, Escola Superior Artística de Guimarães
  • BRUNO LINO VASSALO, image editor, Fronteira
  • CÉSAR AUGUSTO MARTINS MIRANDA DE FREITAS, Instituto de Estudos Superiores de Fafe
  • DIANA RAFAELA PEREIRA, Universidade do Porto
  • ISA MARGARIDA VITÓRIA SEVERINO, Instituto Politécnico da Guarda
  • JOÃO PAULO DE ALMEIDA LANÇA TRINDADE, Dean of Instituto Politécnico de Beja
  • JOAQUIM ANTÓNIO DE JESUS PALMA PINTO, Universidade Católica Portuguesa
  • JORGE PAULO COLAÇO ROSA, Comunidade Intermunicipal do Baixo Alentejo, Beja
  • JOSÉ MIGUEL RITA BORRELA, son of prominent Marianist Leonel Borrela, Porto
  • LUÍS GODINHO MANETA, Editor-in-chief of 'Diário do Alentejo', Beja
  • LUÍSA BORGES, Universidade Católica Portuguesa
  • MANUELA SOFIA DA CONCEIÇÃO SILVA, Instituto Politécnico de Tomar
  • MARIA DE FÁTIMA SOUSA, Teacher, Beja High School
  • MARIA JOÃO MACEDO, Câmara Municipal de Beja
  • MARIA LUÍSA JACQUINET, Universidade de Coimbra
  • MARIA OTÍLIA PEREIRA LAGE, Universidade do Porto
  • MARINA SILVA MOTA, Universidade do Porto
  • PAULA ALMEIDA MENDES, Universidade do Porto
  • PAULO SILVA PEREIRA, Universidade de Coimbra
  • ROSA MARIA FINA, Universidade de Lisboa
  • ROSA MARIA SÁNCHEZ, Universidade do Porto
  • SARA MARINA BARBOSA, Universidade de Lisboa

Brazil (10):

  • ADÍNIA SANTANA FERREIRA, Universidade de Brasília
  • FABIO MARIO DA SILVA, Universidade Federal do Sul e Sudeste do Pará
  • LEONARDO COUTINHO DE CARVALHO RANGEL, Universidade Federal da Bahia
  • MARIA LÚCIA OUTEIRO FERNANDES, Universidade Estadual Paulista
  • PATRICIA TAVARES DE AZEVEDO, Faculdades Integradas Campo-Grandenses
  • PRISCILA FINGER DO PRADO, Universidade Estadual do Centro-Oeste, Paraná
  • RICARDO LUIZ SILVEIRA DA COSTA, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo
  • RICARDO VÉLEZ RODRÍGUEZ, Universidade Positivo de Londrina
  • VÉRONIQUE LE DÜ DA SILVA-SÉMIK, Universidade Estadual da Paraíba

UK (5):

  • ANA BELA ALMEIDA, University of Liverpool
  • ANA MARGARIDA DIAS MARTINS, University of Exeter
  • CARMEN RAMOS VILLAR, University of Sheffield
  • CLÁUDIA PAZOS ALONSO, University of Oxford
  • FERNANDO BELEZA, Newcastle University

USA (4):

  • ANA PAULA FERREIRA, University of Minnesota
  • INÊS MOREIRA LIMA, California State University, Fresno
  • KIMBERLY DACOSTA HOLTON, Rutgers University, Newark
  • RICARDO VASCONCELOS, San Diego State University

Spain (3):

  • ANTIA CORTIÇAS LEIRA, Consellaría de Educación da Xunta da Galiza
  • ELENA LOSADA SOLER, Universitat de Barcelona
  • MARÍA ISABEL TORO PASCUA, Universidad de Salamanca

France (2):

  • MARIA HELENA CUNHA DE FREITAS QUEIRÓS, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3
  • MARIA INÊS AFONSO LOPES, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris

Poland (1):

  • WOJCIECH OWCZARSKI, Uniwersytet Gdański

Sweden (1):

  • CHATARINA EDFELDT, Dalarna University
Call for papers

Please send paper proposals to congresso @ sorormariana.pt by June 30. Include title, 300-word abstract, and a brief bio note. Presentations in Portuguese, English, French, and Spanish will be accepted.

Submitted proposals will be reviewed by July 15 and acceptance decisions will be communicated by e-mail by July 20.

Conference fees: participants, including round trip Lisbon/Beja/Lisbon, 2 nights accommodation, Gala Dinner, and Congress Certificate - 25€; attendees - free (may join the travel, pending availability of places).

for all queries: congresso@ sorormariana.pt

Follow us on Twitter: @sorormariana1

Thank you for your interest in our Congress
Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas / Universidade Nova de Lisboa
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Câmara Municipal de Beja
National Library of Portugal
Museu Regional de Beja
3,5 centuries of love and passion
The reference website on Luso-Brazilian epistolography

Links to this page: https://sorormariana.pt and https://blogue.missiva.pt/2019/03/melancholy-love-and-letters.html

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a copyright violation, please follow the DMCA section in the Terms of Use.