Paul Nadal awarded 1921 Prize for Best Essay in American Literature from American Literature Society

Dec. 9, 2021
Paul Nadal

The Advisory Council of the American Literature Society has awarded the 1921 Prize to Assistant Professor of English and American Studies Paul Nadal for his essay, “Cold War Remittance Economy: US Creative Writing and the Importation of New Criticism into the Philippines” in American Quarterly. The 1921 Prize is awarded annually for “the best article in any field of American literature.” The committee was unanimous in its decision to recognize Nadal’s work. His accomplishment will be celebrated during the occasion of the American Literature Society's 100th anniversary at the 2022 MLA Annual Convention.

The essay uses archival sources to reconstruct a literary genealogy of the impact of U.S. creative writing on Philippine literature in English during the early Cold War period. It addresses the ways in which Filipino writers translated the New Criticism they learned in the United States into socially useful literature by engaging a concept of translation as economic exchange. The essay argues that this economic notion of translation not only names a rhetorical conceit of Anglophone writing; it also historically refers to a “Cold War remittance economy,” that is, the large-scale foreign direct investments in postcolonial literary culture by American creative writing programs and private institutions such as the Rockefeller Foundation. Focusing on three Rockefeller Foundation fellows — Edilberto K. Tiempo, N. V. M. Gonzalez, and Nick Joaquin — the essay narrates the story of the importation of New Criticism into the Philippines as a confrontation between competing yet analogous values of form: autonomy and organic unity in the literary realm, and sovereignty and fiscal balance in the economic realm. In so doing, the essay models a historicist and formalist reading practice that grasps the relationship between literature and political economy not as homology but as a mediated relationship of mutual determination.

Read the essay in American Quarterly via Project Muse: