Physical illness may lead women to grow spiritually, reflect on their lives, and learn how to write about their unique experiences. A fifteenth-century Castilian writer, Teresa de Cartagena distinguishes herself for being a nun, a conversa, a member of a powerful Jewish family, and most of all a disabled (deaf) woman of letters. Her work Arboleda de los enfermos represents a hybrid paradigm in which literature, religion, and medicine interact with one another in medieval Europe. Teresa’s use of embodied metaphors to describe her experience of isolation and loneliness helps reorient readers’ understanding of the disability narrative. Suffering itself serves as an embodiment of consolation and as a medical and religious treatment that relieves her suffering. This article argues that to objectively examine her illness and disability, Teresa deploys intersectional knowledge to interpret her experience, and to empower herself and those who are suffering from the same condition, asserting that deafness, like any other physical impairment, is not a social or religious punishment but rather a “privileged” condition.

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