Since their first publication in magazines like Graphic and the Philippine Free Press, and their subsequent re-publication under the collection title “Tropical Gothic,” Nick Joaquin’s classic short stories from the 1940s have been appraised mainly within a gothic framework. While critics have read the doublings and monstrous excesses of these stories as expressing a postcolonial resistance to colonial modernity, or a desirous anxiety for a pre-colonial Philippines, this paper discusses tropicality as a further localisation of such gothic elements. By adopting a new materialist approach to ecological imaginaries, this article argues that the discourse of the tropical in Joaquin’s aesthetics exercises an agentic role in re-locating temperate climactic markers within the Philippines. After briefly tracing the broader intellectual history of the tropical and the gothic, the discussion turns to the tropical gothic as a distinct category for the refiguration of gothic tropes within a material and tropical aesthetics. By drawing on feminism materialisms, this article makes a case for understanding tropical heat in “The Summer Solstice” and “The Dying Wanton,” as a source of animation and motility. Further attention to transcorporeality in these stories reveals the transformative power of the tropical on human bodies in their more-than-human aspects. By departing from sociohistorical frameworks, this paper invites further consideration of Joaquin’s contribution to a Philippine materialist and environmental poetics.


Sun, Equatorial, Climate, Corporeality, Hispanic

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

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Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
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University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
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University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)