Call for Submissions: KK Special Literary Section on Contemporary Philippine Fiction

December 19, 2023

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: KRITIKA KULTURA SPECIAL LITERARY SECTION ON CONTEMPORARY PHILIPPINE FICTION

 

Contributions are now welcome for a special literary section of Kritika Kultura, the international online journal of language, literary, and cultural studies published by the Department of English of the Ateneo de Manila University. The issue section is intended to be an anthology of contemporary Philippine fiction; the section will appear in a future issue of Kritika Kultura.

The fraught political and aesthetic history of Philippine fiction is among the genealogies mapped by Resil Mojares in Origins and Rise of the Filipino Novel. The Filipino novel, he writes, “was as much fashioned within the tradition as it was imported from the West,” shaped over time by its “interaction with the realities of the society and tradition in which it developed.” 

Thus, while we may point to the trove of oral narratives, religious texts, and even epics as precursors of Philippine fiction, Mojares cautions that “only analogues of an abstract nature”—not “direct lines”—can approximate the link between these early forms and the secular prose narratives that come to define fiction as a genre, even as such forms no doubt haunt contemporary iterations of fiction. 

The inaugural works in this light include the Spanish-language novels of Jose Rizal, the early twentieth century “vernacular” novels of Iñigo Regalado, Faustino Aguilar, and Lope K. Santos, and the short stories in English of Paz Marquez Benitez and Paz Latorena. Their emergence owes much to a “widening of empirical and mimetic impulses” symptomatic of broader social changes at the turn of the century, most notably the passage from the “medieval” Spanish rule to the “modern” American occupation.

Thus, what also unites these texts is their engagement via narrative of a social reality and historical experience that came to be increasingly delineated as “Philippine,” a category whose contemporary guise was galvanized under American rule following radical efforts to constitute a nation toward the end of the Spanish colonial period. This means that the emergence of Philippine fiction as we understand it today is inextricable from notions of nation and modernity; as a tradition, it is formally polyvalent and capacious, investigative in impetus, thematically alert to social crises.

Over the decades, the contours of Philippine fiction would be shaped by similar pressures of history, formal limits and possibilities, and other aspects of literary production, in particular the academization of creative writing, literary prizes, internationalization, notions of prestige, and the politics of canon formation and patronage. The venues available for the Filipino fiction writer across generations—from magazines like Liwayway and the Philippines Free Press to campus publications and academic journals—also contributed to the popularization of Philippine fiction while also shaping the formal expectations around it.

The result is Philippine novels and short stories aburst with negotiations of colonialism and its long afterlife; authoritarian rule and Filipino resistance; alienation both Marxist and existential; the squalor of urban spaces, the violence hiding behind the bucolic countryside, and the cosmopolitan loneliness of exile; the vagaries of desire and the promise of revolution. Form-wise, convention routinely spars with experimentation, aesthetics with politics (or aesthetics as politics), and the dominance of certain modes and languages has, if not eroded, faced a critical, continuing challenge. Claims and aspirations of modernity jostle with a persistent folk tradition with its own history of resistance, imagination of power relations, and humor both cosmic and mundane.

This special literary section, by invoking this history, seeks to investigate the current whereabouts and directions of Philippine fiction amid and within the contemporary historical moment. It continues the appraisals conducted in, among many others, the anthologies edited by Alejandro Abadilla and Clodualdo del Mundo, Leopoldo Yabes, Gemino Abad, and Isagani Cruz; as well as anthologies premised on movements, traditions, gender politics, modes, and even groups and organizations; the critical investigation of scholars such as Mojares, Soledad Reyes, Edna Z. Manlapaz, E. San Juan Jr, Caroline Hau, and Edel Garcellano; and the important multi-language effort Ulirat: Best Contemporary Stories in Translation from the Philippines, edited by Tilde Acuña, John Bengan, Daryll Delgado, Amado Anthony Mendoza, and Kristine Ong Muslim.

More than a century after Philippine fiction’s inception in modernity, how are its writers reckoning with the seduction and ravages of globalization? How are they imagining Filipino lives at a time when the freedom of capital is contingent on the enclosure of people and nature? How are they thinking of form amid the possibilities unleashed by the endurance of myth and allure of AI? What kind of readership is conjured in the era of corporatized publishing and stories told via Tweets? How are they making sense of freedom amid resurgent populism and state terror, self-definition amid the performative prison of social media, earnestness as an ethos amid the hyper-ironic zeitgeist, hope despite the doom foretold by the climate emergency?

These questions, we believe, culminate in the Filipino fiction writer asking herself, what is important? Ano ang mahalaga—at para kanino? What matters—and for whom? If Fredric Jameson has characterized the bewildering and precarious present as “an age that has forgotten how to think historically,” the preoccupation with what ought to be valued—politically, morally, formally, etc.—will provide the anthology with enough space to mull over the current trajectories of Philippine fiction without the potential limitations posed by words such as “new” or “contemporary.” What is important in Philippine fiction today? We’d like to know.

 

Submission Guidelines

Please email your original and unpublished work—flash fiction, short stories, and novel excerpts—to [email protected] (cc: [email protected]). You may send multiple submissions, and each work must be suitable to the PDF format of the journal. Novel excerpts must include a synopsis of the project. Hybrid forms, such as those that utilize images or blur generic boundaries, must be predominantly textual. Submissions in English, Filipino, and other local languages are accepted.

For both the subject heading of the email and the file name of the submission, please follow this format: <last name_title of work_Special> (e.g., dela Cruz_Notes on Extinction_Special). Email your work as a file attachment (.docx and/or .pdf format); please do not indicate your name within the pages of the attachment. As an in-line text in your email, include a brief bionote (100 to 150 words), as well as your institutional affiliation and professional email address.

All contributions must be submitted on or before February 29, 2024. Please give the editors a response time of two months before you inquire about the status of your submission.

 

Glenn Diaz

Department of English

Ateneo de Manila University

 

Edgar Calabia Samar

Department of Filipino

Ateneo de Manila University

 

Guest Editors, Special Literary Section on Contemporary Philippine Fiction


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