Since his death in 2004, National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin has left readers and scholars with a body of literature which has yet to receive innovative and incisive critical attention.
E. San Juan, Jr.’s Subversions of Desire: Prolegomena to Nick Joaquin (1988)— perhaps the only book-length critical study on Joaquin’s oeuvre—makes a recuperative reading of Nick Joaquin’s works in the context of radical social transformations happening at that time. Even then, San Juan had already expressed the need for a bibliographic reading that includes the various genres, critical studies and reviews on Nick Joaquin. For San Juan, such a project should be part of a national-popular consensus on behalf of the struggle of the Filipino people for social justice, true democracy, and genuine independence.
Majority of studies on Joaquin focus on his fiction. Rajeev Patke (2013) compares Joaquin and the Indian writer Arun Kolatkar. Through a reading of The Woman Who Had Two Navels, Patke shows the complexities of faith amidst modern predicaments. Ruth Pison (2005) looks at Cave and Shadows and examines the use of myth as a weapon for counter-memory during Martial Law.
Joaquin’s play A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino (1952) has also been studied considerably. Caroline Hau in Necessary Fictions (2000) juxtaposes Portrait and Reynaldo Ileto’s Pasyon and Revolution. Hau argues that both authors privilege a syncretic Filipino culture “as a solution to the problem of confronting the colonial legacy of Philippine nationalism.” John Blanco (2004), concentrating on Joaquin’s Hispanism in Portrait, argues for the “recovery of the baroque mode of representation” and proposes a revaluation of the “baroque aesthetic of catastrophe in various colonial works.” Philip Holden (2009) inquires into modernist elements and Gothic aspects in Joaquin’s fiction and its place in a post-independence society.
While Joaquin’s drama and fiction have been studied, his other texts await further interpretation. Very little scholarship has been made on his journalism, history writing, children’s books, translations, or his work on Manila, to name a few less-considered examples. There are few studies on Joaquin’s less popular texts such as Almanac for Manileños; Vincenz Serrano’s article (2012) which looks at heteroglossic and historiographic elements in Joaquin’s Almanac is a rare example. Similarly, there is little scholarship on Joaquin’s children’s stories, with Anna Katrina Gutierrez’s study (2014) one of the few exceptions. Even rarer are discussions on Joaquin’s poems, aside from Joseph Galdon’s “Review of Collected Verse by Nick Joaquin” (1990).
With respect to critical frameworks and methodologies, feminist, New Historicist and postcolonial lenses seem to be favored. New theoretical dispositions and critical approaches are therefore welcome. For example, Vicente Rafael (2013) sets Joaquin alongside Renato Constantino and elaborates on the former’s views on Tagalog slang as a way of expanding literary democracy.
We are still far from San Juan’s vision elaborated in 1988. The Forum Kritika on Nick Joaquin seeks to address these gaps in Joaquinian scholarship in time for celebrating his centennial birth anniversary in 2017. (Re)interpretations of Joaquin’s lesser-known works are welcome:
— children’s books
— biographies and profiles
— literary and film criticism
— travel writing
— his letters
— works in Filipino
Moreover, studies using emerging and established theoretical framework and methodologies are encouraged; these include:
— animal studies
— trauma theory
— translation studies
— world literature
— visual and textual intersections
Kritika Kultura is calling for papers which aim to (re)interpret the Joaquinian archive, rereading his more popular works through new critical lenses, analyzing and juxtaposing multidirectional, multimodal, and diverging aspects of his work, and, last but not the least, examining his global influence in terms of circulation and translation, inquiring into the politics and material underpinnings which condition Joaquin’s international reach.
Contributions should be 7,000 to 8000 words (MLA style). Include the following elements in the submission: abstract (200 to 250 words); bionote (100 to 150 words); keywords (5 to 7); institutional affiliation and e-mail address. Send contributions and inquiries to the guest editors of the Forum Kritika:
— Gary Devilles (firstname.lastname@example.org)
— Jocelyn Martin (email@example.com)
Use the subject heading “Forum Kritika on Nick Joaquin” and cc all correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline is on Dec. 31, 2016.
Kritika Kultura is a peer-refereed electronic journal (indexed in MLA, DOAJ, Scopus, and Thomson Reuters), which is devoted to the innovative, multidisciplinary study of language, literature, culture, and society. Sample issues and articles can be viewed online at http://journals.ateneo.edu/ojs/kk/