Migrant Scribes and Poet-Advocates: U.S. Filipino Literary History in West Coast Periodicals, 1905 to 1941
Migrant Scribes and Poet-Advocates: U.S. Filipino Literary History
in West Coast Periodicals, 1905 to 1941
by Jean Vengua
Doctor of Philosophy in English
University of California, Berkeley
Professor Genaro Padilla, Chair
Much of the earliest prose and poetry published by Filipinos in the United States appeared in the many periodicals published and edited by Filipinos from 1905 through the end of the Great Depression. Today, these periodicals function as historical "archives." However, they also document U.S. Filipino literary heritage from the first half of the twentieth century, especially in forms of persuasive writing such as editorials and feature essays, and also in poetry, short stories, reviews, and literary criticism. The periodicals nurtured Filipino writers as they struggled to find their voice in the foreign nation that employed them as non-citizen workers, and had colonized and exploited the material resources of their homeland, the Philippines. A study of these texts may help to add breadth and depth to our research and understanding of Filipino writing in the U.S., both its literary production and history, as well as its contemporary forms.
This dissertation is a preliminary survey of writing found in eight U.S. Filipino periodicals in the Western U.S. during the early 20th century. It articulates several broad functions of these newspapers and magazines in relation to the production and support of U.S. Filipino writing. While U.S. Filipino periodicals constituted their own social spheres, providing venues and reading constituencies for writers, the work they published also narrated and thus reinforced the formation of Filipino communities--both migrating or localized--as well as group and individual identities, although the effects varied, in terms of the writer's gender. This study examines the historical and material contexts for this writing, exploring the lives of the writers themselves, as well as specific examples of texts that they produced.