In the spirit of promoting international academic exchange and encouraging scholarly collaboration in the field of literary and cultural criticism, the Office of the Scholar-in-Residence/UNITAS Office, in cooperation with the Faculty of Arts and Letters, Research Center for Culture, Arts and Humanities and the Department of Literature, hosted an international conference on Ethical Literary Criticism held at the UST Buenaventura G. Paredes, O.P. Building, George S.K. Ty Function Hall from  April 27 to 28, 2019.

Established in 2012, the International Association of Ethical Literary Criticism (IAELC) is devoted to the study of world literatures from the perspective of Ethical Literary Criticism. The conference provided an avenue for scholars and students from all over the world to share their insights and findings in literary studies today. Founded by Prof. Nie Zhenzhao of Zhejiang University, IAELC has continued to expand and enrich possibilities for the study of Ethical Literary Criticism through annual international conferences.

In cultivating this new and revitalized critical approach in literary studies, the conference aimed to foreground perspectives and discourses on the relationships between literature and society, the relations between writers and their works and the relations between readers and works from an ethical vantage point. Alongside the theoretical, thematic and terminological complexities of literary studies, IAELC attempts to celebrate Literature as a distinctive if complex ethical expression within particular milieus.

In accentuating the “ethical turn” in literary studies, literature becomes an avenue for ethical illumination and edification in the contemporary world. In reading or re-reading canonical and non-canonical literary works from the perspective of ethics as a means of validating the revelatory capacity and explanatory power of this new critical framework, the forum addresses literary systems, symbolic structures, and critical constructs in ethical literary criticism such as ethical identity, ethical environment, ethical confusion, ethical taboo, free will, rational will, natural will, irrational will, and the human and animal factors intersecting sociological, psychoanalytic, philosophical, and other imperatives.

The topics of the conference were: (1) Ethical Literary Criticism: Concept Analysis and Theory Mapping; (2) Ethical Literary Criticism and Interdisciplinary Studies; (3) Ethical Literary Criticism and the Re-reading of World Literary Canons.

The plenary speakers were: Zhejiang University Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies of World Literature Director Prof. Nie Zhenzao, Edge Hill University Critical Performance Studies Prof. Victor Merriman, UST Research Center for Culture, Arts, and Humanities Director Prof. Joyce L. Arriola, and Inha University Professor Prof. Joel David.


Arriola delivers Plenary Lecture

UST Research Center for Culture, Arts, and Humanities Director Prof. Joyce L. Arriola, Ph.D., delivered her lecture on “The Literary Roots of Critical Media Studies” as plenary speaker for the International Conference on Ethical Literary Criticism and Interdisciplinary Studies held at the Buenaventura Garcia Paredes O.P. Building, UST, on April 28, 2019.

Arriola’s lecture exemplified the correlation between literature and media throughout history. From the period of orality to the contemporary criticism on literary and media studies, the lecture highlighted the parallel concerns between the two disciplines by tracing the historic interdependence of their development by substantiating the shared ethical frameworks between the two disciplines and emphasizing the continuing usefulness of rhetoric.

Oral communication and early speech and theater drew from the canonical theories of rhetoric. Arriola concluded the lecture by stating that, “Although they can now be studied as separate disciplines, they are connected by both method and aspiration, which is the humanistic method and the commitment to inspire social action. Even if the consequences of discourse for both literary studies and media studies have remained, for the most part, within the realm of thought or intellectual reflection, the commitment to change will always be their permanently shared aspiration.”

The international conference, a two-day event organized by UNITAS, together with the UST Department of Literature, UST Research Center for Culture, Arts, and Humanities, and the International Association for Ethical Literary Criticism (IAELC), gathered prominent local and international Humanities scholars hailing from different universities from Asia and Europe to explore and revive the ethical commitment shared by academics across the globe for the continuing reverence to literature, arts, and the humanities.

Tributary Performance on Julio Nakpil

RCCAH Research Fellow and Musicologist Dr. Maria Alexandra I. Chua and students from the UST Conservatory of Music serenaded guests and participants with an ensemble in commemoration of the Filipino Musician and Revolutionary Julio Nakpil during the International Conference on Ethical Literary Criticism and Interdisciplinary Studies.

The ensemble, originally a research project titled Julio Nakpil @ 150 Music Project under UST-RCCAH and funded by the SALIKHA Creative Grants of the Commission on Higher Education, brings to light the music opus of Julio Nakpil (1867-1960), a native Filipino composer and Katipunero (revolutionary soldier) in the late nineteenth-century.

The ensemble featured three of Nakpil’s musical pieces, namely, Amor Patrio (Love of Country), Pag-ibig (Love), and the Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan (Noble Hymn of the Tagalog Nation). Amor Patrio, written in 1893, is a vocal composition dedicated to José Rizal upon his exile and deportation to Dapitan by the Spanish colonial government. Pag-ibig, composed in 1897 in the style of the danza habanera, was possibly dedicated to his future wife Gregoria de Jesus, the widow of Andres Bonifacio. Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan, commissioned by Bonifacio, was composed in November 1896 and is said to be the first national anthem of the country. The anthem taken from a native musical form dalit hails freedom from the Spanish colonizers.

At the end of the performance was the singing of Bayan Ko (My Country), a musical piece written in the 1920s which elicits yearnings of freedom and patriotism. Its original Spanish text was penned by the propagandist Jose Alejandrino, and was later translated into Tagalog by José Corazon de Jesus with music by Constancio de Guzman.