I wish to have more dialogue about these things, especially as so many of you are asking me for my syllabi, and others out there are at the beginnings of your own syllabi creation. The FB “Like” is obnoxious and dissatisfying to me, and tells me little. Thoughts? Challenges?
I have been thinking more about Filipino literature, more about elevating the literature, and wondering what, concretely, that entails. I have been wondering too, about the balance between the culture making and political statement on the one hand, and the handling of the literature as literature. I told my USF students last week that in addition to the craft, the writerly concerns of the writer, there’s an additional pressure on the work and the writer to be that cultural ambassador and spokesperson, to be culturally and politically relevant. Again, a pressure on the work to DO something. Thing is, I think this pressure is internally imposed, as in, a community pressure.
Surely, this has something to do with our absence in mainstream book stores, and as Filipino American writers, in Filipino and Asian American media. If we’re not writing a mainstream-directed, mainstream published piece of literature, we’re typically overlooked. Thing too, is that if our writers are writing mainstream-directed, mainstream published literature, then all kinds of accusation about it being not relevant to our ethnic experiences, or “safe,” where “safe” is an undesirable quality. Thing too, is that if the writing is challenging — in various ways, formalistically, narratively unconventional, elevated diction — this work, too, is deemed inaccessible, not community friendly.
Not wise, really, to bring this baggage into introductory undergraduate literature courses. But surely, many young people already have these opinions in formation, as it’s being fed to them. False binaries of “academic” and “community,” “literary tradition” and “oral tradition,” with little or no consideration to the fact that these traditions mutually influence one another. Or the assumption that Western traditions have nothing to do with us, when it’s clear that our heroes and great minds, Jose Rizal, Carlos Bulosan, et al, were extremely well-read in Western literary tradition. And that we should continue to be well-read in multiple traditions.
That said, additional syllabus items:
- Gina Apostol, “Cunanan’s Wake,” in Thirdest World.
- Fatima Lim-Wilson, poems from Crossing the Snow Bridge.
- Melissa Roxas, “Poetry as Evidence.”
- Marjorie Evasco, “The Writer and Her Roots.”
- Gloria Anzaldúa, “Speaking in Tongues: A Letter to Third World Women Writers.”
- Marjorie Evasco, “The Other Voice: Reply to Anzaldua.”
- Alice Walker, “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens.”
- Joi Barrios, “Women Talk.”
- Erna Hernandez, “Tsismis,” in Babaylan.
- Barbara Jane Reyes, Poeta en San Francisco and Diwata.
- Maria Elena Paterno, “A Song in the Wind.”
Thing about teaching my own works is this; I see fellow authors doing this all the time. Indeed, I took classes with folks who also taught their own works, and so it should be a given. You are given certain classes to teach because you are one of the authorities on the subject, and you are known as one of the authorities on the subject based upon the content of your publication output. A while back, when blogging about syllabus creation for Filipino lit, a commenter who I do not know personally, stated derisively that it was unprofessional to teach my own work, for various reasons of vanity and self-promotion, and selfishness. Shouldn’t I be giving other people’s work the shine. While this criticism is not well-thought out, certainly tells me more about the commenter than it tells me about myself. And I’d challenge someone out there to tell me that my work is not relevant to the study of Filipino/a (American) literature.
Now, to reiterate: I wish to have more dialogue about these things, especially as so many of you are asking me for my syllabi, and others out there are at the beginnings of your own syllabi creation. The FB “Like” is obnoxious and dissatisfying to me, and tells me little. Thoughts? Challenges?