Spring 2013: Filipina/o American Literature, Art, and Culture @ SFSU

So I will be back at SFSU next semester after all. Last week, as I was guest speaking in Valerie Soe’s class, I decided to drop in on Lorraine Dong, the Asian American Studies Dept. Chair, just as Allyson was also walking into Lorraine’s office. I told them I was available and interested. And this week, I’ve got rehiring paperwork in my in box. I love it when it happens like this.

The class I taught last year has grown (broadened?) from a literature course to this multi-disciplinary course which is almost the opposite of what I do at USF, where Pinay Lit is a fairly specific focus. Well, that specificity only opens up the problem of “representative” literature, of which I am trying to do the opposite.

So at SFSU then, with this larger, less focused course title, I’ve decided that rather than kick my own ass trying to cram more and more material into the syllabus, I would instead hone it down to a select number of themes instead of trying to do the broad historical sweep. As literature is my strength, I remain focused on it, and branch out into other forms from there. So here’s my preliminary list of required texts for next semester:

  1. M. Evelina Galang, One Tribe (New Issues Press, 2006)
  2. Barbara Jane Reyes, Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish Press, 2005)
  3. Ronaldo V. Wilson, Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008)
  4. R. Zamora Linmark, Leche (Coffee House Press, 2011)
  5. Rafe Bartholomew, Pacific Rims (NAL Trade, 2011)
  6. Lynda Barry, One Hundred Demons (Sasquatch Books, 2005)

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Writing Culture 2

So, Sunny Vergara and I are having some discussion over on FB re: R. Zamora Linmark’s Leche, as both of us have finished reading it over the weekend. Sunny’s write-up is here, and mine is here.

One thing we’re talking about is Linmark’s skirting but ultimately steering away from sentimentality, which I think he does quite well. In a balikbayan narrative, or as Sunny writes, a “Great Philippine Novel” from the point of view of the balikbayan, sentimentality can kill the writing. But you have to come close, you have to risk it. The balikbayan narrative/hero story is necessarily an emotional one, and also a historical and political one. Questions of home and belonging, being Filipino and/or American, both, neither, invariably arise. How to handle these without falling into derivative, overdone, overfamiliar rant or tirade, didacticism and polemicizing that takes the work out of the realm of creative writing.

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