«Elles ne sont pas visibles»: le prime orsoline della Louisiana e la scrittura dell’incontro

Autore: Vincenzo Lagioia
In: Genesis. XVI / 2 , 2017
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On 7 August 1727, eleven Ursuline nuns departed from Rouen to found their first community in New Orleans. The Relation du voyage des dames ursulines de Rouen à la Nouvelle Orléans, printed in 1728 by Antoine Le Prevost, is an original and virtually unique example of New World travel literature in that its author is a woman, sister Marie Hachard of St. Stanislas, then a novice. The young nun’s writings, a concise epistolary destined for her father, are part of the established and well-known genre of missionary travel narration, to which historiography has dedicated a great deal of attention. Her urgent desire to save the souls of the “poor savages” is clear, her observations comparing their respective ways of life are striking, and her descriptions of fauna and nature are extraordinary. To educate and to correct, to save and to cure: these are the imperatives that drove the devoted sisters, in their most classic of genuine vocations, and her report reflects this with singular historical acumen. This essay aims to elaborate on these topics from a perspective drawing on gender and cultural studies.