• Vincenz Serrano

Student thesis: Phd


Eskinita and Other Poems Eskinita and Other Poems is a collection of poems and sequences with Manila as its context and the city walker as its key figure. An eskinita-a Tagalog diminution of the Spanish word esquina, which means "corner"-is a term used to refer to sidestreet so narrow that even a car would find it hard to maneuver there; an eskinita that leads to a dead end, moreover, is called an interior. Grounded in, yet taking flight from, the language and imagery of Manila, the manuscript draws on the city's history and its present moment as it juxtaposes personal experiences and scholarly sources to portray a city whose development-considered in works like Nick Joaquin's Manila, My Manila, Manuel Caoili's The Origins of Metropolitan Manila, and Robert Reed's Colonial Manila-is bound up with political, social, economic, and postcolonial structures. Through this space goes the city walker, a figure considered in literary and theoretical texts like Walter Benjamin's study on the flâneur, Michel de Certeau's analysis of walking, and psychogeographic writings of the Situationists. The poems are concerned with formal strategies that take their cues from Anglo-American Modernism-collages of texts in lyric and prose, serial structures, and line splicings-and aim to express the complex experience of walking in Manila, of writing Manila: juxtapositions and interpenetrations between interior and exterior, scholarly and demotic language, past and present. The long poem Eskinita extends the use of these devices: apart from prose and verse combinations, it incorporates quotation, parataxis, and photography. Although the overt aim is to offer, using the aesthetic resources of poetry, multiple and refracted views of Manila, Eskinita nevertheless endeavours to express-by constraining words, lines, and page layout-a sense of containment and limit. By counterpointing multiple textual and visual modes-and including various sources and formal devices-Eskinita and Other Poems explores and sometimes rejoices in the tensions between polyphonic and disjunctive elements, and the way their structures generate resonance and dialogue between unlikely familiars. Form, Historiography, and Nation in Nick Joaquin's Almanac for Manileños This thesis argues that the Almanac-when contextualised within the long-standing tradition of the almanac genre, and examined using the theoretical underpinnings of Mikhail Bakhtin's notion of heteroglossia, Walter Benjamin's views of fragmentary historiography, and intertwining aspects of literary form and nation formation-expresses the multiple, not singular, temporalities that constitute and complicate the Filipino nation. Produced in 1979, during Martial Law in the Philippines, the Almanac's formal strategy-demonstrated by the accommodation of discrepant genres, compression and correspondence in the calendars, and fragmentation in the essays-is a kind of non-linear historical emplotment. Such an aesthetic-derived in part from Modernism-is distinct from, and critically interrogates, fixed and linear articulations of national history. The focus of the analysis is a reading of the Almanac's calendars and essays. The distinctions and interactions between these subgenres result in a text that is both cohesive and stratified: calendrical entries which are comprised of national and religious elements and have past and future orientations inhabit the same space as temporally disjunctive essays. Despite fragmentation, the Almanac is nevertheless held together by correspondences and associations. The Almanac's oblique and tangential strategy of representing Philippine history-when seen in the light of the obsolescence of a now-moribund but then-vital genre-critiques linear historiography. By accommodating accounts of missed chances and foregrounding seemingly irrelevant details, Joaquin's Almanac interrogates historical narratives which, in the name of progress, fail to incorporate materials that are aberrant and inconsequenti
Date of Award31 Dec 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJohn Mcauliffe (Supervisor)


  • Modernism
  • historiography
  • poetry
  • Mikhail Bakhtin
  • Nick Joaquin
  • Manila
  • Walter Benjamin

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