Creative writing workshops have proliferated in writing classrooms and in organised activities usually by academic institutions. The first of its kind and the longest running workshop in Asia, Silliman University National Writers Workshop (SUNWW) in Dumaguete City, Philippines turned 57 last May 2019. The Workshop, initially patterned after the Iowa Writers Workshop, have offered over six hundred fellowships to writers, becoming a ‘rite of passage’ for the country’s finest writers. Given its immense influence in Philippine letters, it has seen its fair share of criticisms. Its critical pedagogy along with English as its language has been criticised as colonial and detrimental to nation-building as it further dehistorizes and depoliticises literature. The material and historical forces that are the impetus of creative works are allegedly silenced in the critical pedagogy of the Workshop that has, for some, never been weaned from American New Criticism. This paper seeks to explore the present critical pedagogy of the workshop through analysis of selected workshop sessions (in the 57th instalment) in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Through such, a more informed evaluation of the critical tenets used in the discussion of manuscripts will hopefully come to light. It hopes to offer an alternative reading of the critical pedagogy and the workshop itself as a space of negotiation (censorship versus expression, cultivation of creativity vis-a-vis regulation of it), meaning-making, and consensus.
Alana Leilani Narciso, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong