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Title of Dissertation:
Reimagining American New Criticism in the Philippines’ Silliman University National Writers Workshop (SUNWW)
Professor Eddie Tay
Founded in 1962, the Silliman University National Writers Workshop is the first of its kind and the longest running workshop in Asia. It has offered over six hundred writing fellowships to Filipino writers. Establishing itself as a “rite of passage for the country’s finest writers” who now determine “the shape, direction, and development of Philippine literature” (About. Silliman University National Writers Workshop), it is also accused of colonial pedagogy detrimental to nation-building. This is attributed to the American New Criticism ideology/critical framework that the Iowa-trained founders SEAWRITE awardee Edilberto K. Tiempo and National Artist for Literature Edith L. Tiempo (the first and to date the only woman and first from the regions) transfigured and transplanted into the Philippines, the couple being the first non-American students of the program. In addition to having seven National Artists (Nick Joaquin, Francisco Arcellana, N.V.M. Gonzales, Rolando Tinio, Bienvenido Lumbera, Cirilo Bautista and soon Resil Mojares) in its panel, the Workshop has had several other writers from outside the archipelago (Paul Engle, Xu Xi, Kirpal Singh, Nguyen Phan Que Mai, David McKirdy, Robin Hemley, Tim Tomlinson, Alvin Pang, Tammy Ho Lai-Ming, Gwee Li Sui, and Prashanni Rambukwella). The thesis seeks to present a comprehensive and more nuanced understanding of the SUNWW’s critical pedagogy by looking into the critical works of the founders, workshop’s history, and workshop discussions through the years. It also seeks to locate the Workshop in the discourses of postcolonialism and the world republic of letters.