“Cold War Remittance Economy: US Creative Writing and the Importation of New Criticism in the Philippines.” American Quarterly 73.3 (2021): 557–595.*
* Prize Citation: Winner of the 1921 Best Essay Prize in American Literature from the American Literature Association.
Special Issue on “Language, Multilingualism, and Translation in American Studies,” edited by Vicente L. Rafael and Mary Louise Pratt.
Abstract This essay uses archival sources to reconstruct a literary genealogy of the impact of US creative writing on Philippine literature in English during the early Cold War period. It addresses the ways in which Filipino writers translated the New Criticism they learned in the United States into socially useful literature by engaging a concept of translation as economic exchange. The essay argues that this economic notion of translation not only names a rhetorical conceit of Anglophone writing; it also historically refers to a “Cold War remittance economy,” that is, the large-scale foreign direct investments in postcolonial literary culture by American creative writing programs and private institutions such as the Rockefeller Foundation. Focusing on three Rockefeller Foundation fellows—Edilberto K. Tiempo, N. V. M. Gonzalez, and Nick Joaquin—the essay narrates the story of the importation of New Criticism into the Philippines as a confrontation between competing yet analogous values of form: autonomy and organic unity in the literary realm, and sovereignty and fiscal balance in the economic realm. In so doing, the essay models a historicist and formalist reading practice that grasps the relationship between literature and political economy not as homology but as a mediated relationship of mutual determination.