Photostat of The Tenth Muse by Miguel Cabrera, 1750. Dorothy Schons Papers, Benson Latin American Collection.


In this lesson, students will identify the main events in the life of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz and analyze how the historical context shaped her life. Students will discuss women’s ability to make decisions in colonial Mexico through Sor Juana’s biography, her poem, You Foolish Men, and artwork inspired by her. This is Lesson 4 of the Women in Colonial Latin America unit.

Date Range: 1648-1695
Grade Levels: 9-12
Countries: Mexico
Course Subject(s): Latin American Studies; Women & Gender Studies; World History Studies
Topic(s): Colonialism; Gender; Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz; Women; Religion; Literature; Art
Teaching Time Frame: 1 day (90 minute lesson)

Guiding Questions

  • How did women navigate the complexity of gender in colonial Mexico within the Catholic Church?
  • Why did women become nuns in colonial Mexico?
  • What were some of the benefits and challenges of religious life?
  • What access did women have to “freedom of speech”?

Learning Objectives

  1. Name the main events in the life of Sor Juana and identify the historical context when these events occurred. 
  2. Analyze poetry and infer information about its author. 
  3. Interpret a work of art and provide support for their views. 
  4. Create a poem to explain their ideas on the life of women in 17th-century Mexico

Relevant Teaching Standards

TEKS Guidelines

  • World History
    • (c)-(7)-(A) – The student understands the causes and impact of increased global interaction from 1450 to 1750. The student is expected to analyze the causes of European expansion from 1450 to 1750.
    • (c)-(7)-(B) – Explain the impact of the Columbian Exchange.

C3 Framework

  • Geography
    • D2.Geo.6.9-12. Evaluate the impact of human settlement activities on the environmental and cultural characteristics of specific places and regions.
  • History
    • D2.His.1.9-12. Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.
    • D2.His.11.9-12. Critique the usefulness of historical sources for a specific historical inquiry based on their maker, date, place of origin, intended audience, and purpose.


Lesson Plan (PDF) | Primary Sources & Editable Plan (ZIP)

Rights Statement

Creator(s): Cinthia S. Salinas, Department Chair, Department of Curriculum and Instruction & Maria Jose Ramirez, Graduate Student, Department of Curriculum and Instruction

This assignment is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Public License (“Public License”). This license lets others share, remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially, as long as they credit the creators and license their new creations under the identical terms.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Obedience and Rebellion from the Convent (Lesson)