Nadal, Paul. “Cold War Remittance Economy: US Creative Writing and the Importation of New Criticism in the Philippines.” Accepted and forthcoming from American Quarterly.
Abstract This essay reconstructs 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 Philippine 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.
Nadal, Paul. “A Literary Remittance: Juan C. Laya’s His Native Soil and the Rise of Realism in the Filipino Novel in English.” American Literature 89.3 (2017): 591–626.
Abstract This essay recovers a once celebrated but now forgotten Filipino novel in English, Juan Cabreros Laya’s His Native Soil (1941), which marked the emergence of realism during the Philippine Commonwealth’s slow, decade-long transition to independence from the United States. Whereas the novel was originally praised as a landmark text in Philippine literature in English, His Native Soil was later dismissed by postwar critics as an imitative, formally flawed, and stylistically inferior work. Taking up Roberto Schwarz’s challenge to advance a reading practice that takes into account the difference between literature and social structure in the colonial periphery, I argue that rather than viewing His Native Soil’s improbabilities of plot and tonal dissonances as artistic flaws, they are more meaningfully read as the author’s attempt to adapt the realist protocols of the bildungsroman to capture the double-edged nature of independence: the adoption of a trade policy that would economically bind together the Philippines and the United States and that would render political freedom impossible for Filipinos unless relations of colonial dependency were to be continued after independence.