You are on page 1of 10

University of the East

Senior High School

CONTEMPORARY ARTS
Assignment in Contemporary Arts
(Literature)

Asuncion, Kirby James Fajardo


STEM 12 – 13P

Prof. Kenneth Valiente


Influences of Literature

Literature has had a major impact on the development of society. It has shaped
civilizations, changed political systems and exposed injustice. Literature gives us a
detailed preview of human experiences, allowing us to connect on basic levels of desire
and emotion. However, just as it has constructed societies, the writings and works of
certain authors have degraded societies to their most primitive form. The UAE is only 36
years old. In a country that is still undergoing rapid development, the potential impact of
literature is indubitable. An educated youth, which holds the future of the nation in their
hands, has the power to influence change.

"By reading narratives, we can empathize and understand others," said Judith
Caesar, English professor at the American University of Sharjah (AUS). "Literature is
thought provoking; it allows us to raise questions and gives us a deeper understanding
of issues and situations." Caesar emphasized literature's role in allowing its readers to
grasp the meaning of human conflict. "In an era of modern media, such as television
and movies, people are misled into thinking that every question or problem has its quick
answer or solution," she said. "However, literature confirms the real complexity of
human experience."

Students also recognized literature's role in influencing human thought.


"Literature provides insight into the minds of other human beings, into the mind of the
author and the minds of the character he or she brings to life," said Sophie Chamas,
international studies student at AUS. "It provides one with the opportunity to further
one's education to continuously learn new things and be exposed to a plethora of
ideas." Students and professors said that the disregard for literature is a main
component of ignorance and constituents like stereotypes, judgements and
preconceived notions about different people and cultures. "Literature is the study of
human nature. We see human nature through tragedy and romance, joy and sorrow, in
epiphanies and denial, in moments of heroism and in moments of cowardice," said
Sa'ad Farooqi, an English literature major at AUS.

"Literature teaches us to analyze a character, allows us to reach inside his or her


mind so we see what drives a character, what shapes his or her beliefs and how one
relates to others." Today's youth realizes the true depth of human emotion and
behavior. They understand that there is more to a person than what they display on the
exterior. They see the intricacy of human experience, giving them an open mind and an
open heart. However, today's youth can only reach this point of enlightenment through
seeking knowledge - by being well read and cultured individuals. "We can only analyze
a character once we understand and look beyond the obvious," Farooqi said. "We learn
not to judge a character based on appearances because more than any other field of
study, literature openly acknowledges the unreliable nature of appearances." Literature
also allows us to question some of our most prominent beliefs and examine our lives,
giving them deeper meaning. Farooqi used the book Siddhartha by Herman Hesse as
an example of how literature works to expand our minds and give us a greater
understanding of the world. "When confronted with such works, we automatically
question our beliefs, values, morality and the infinite," he said.

Michael Mack maintains that we are accustomed to thinking of literature as


mimetic, as a representation of reality such as it exists, while literature is in fact,
according to him, a disruptive force, breaking up our fictions about the world we live in
and showing us new possibilities for the future. For example, literature has the capacity
to change our thinking about ageing by undermining the opposition between birth and
ageing.

As an introduction to the main themes of Mack's book, let me quote him directly:

How Literature Changes the Way we Think attempts to illuminate literature's


ethics of resilience by re-conceptualizing our understanding of representation.
Literature not only represents to us our world but it also shows us ways in which
we can change the world or adapt to changes which have already taken place
without our realization. Literature's cognitive dimension helps us cope with the
current as well as future challenges by changing the way we think about
ourselves, our society and those who are excluded from or marginalized within
our society. . . . The literary discussion of the book attends to the ways in which
contemporary novels (by Philip Roth and Kazuo Ishiguro amongst others)
question the traditional opposition between birth (youth) and aging. By rendering
these seemingly oppositional terms, complimentary literature changes the way
we think about the demographic challenges our society increasingly faces. (p.
11)

Types of Literature

Poetry

This is often considered the oldest form of literature. Before writing was invented,
oral stories were commonly put into some sort of poetic form to make them easier to
remember and recite. Poetry today is usually written down, but is still sometimes
performed.
A lot of people think of rhymes and counting syllables and lines when they think
of poetry, and some poems certainly follow strict forms. But other types of poetry are so
free-form that they lack any rhymes or common patterns. There are even kinds of poetry
that cross genre lines, such as prose poetry. In general, though, a text is a poem when
it has some sort of meter or rhythm, and when it focuses on the way the syllables,
words, and phrases sound when put together. Poems are heavy in imagery and
metaphor, and are often made up of fragments and phrases rather than complete,
grammatically correct sentences. And poetry is nearly always written in stanzas and
lines, creating a unique look on the page.

Poetry as experienced in the classroom is usually one of three types. There are
the shorter, more modern poems, spanning anything from a few lines to a few pages.
Often these are collected in books of poems by a single author or by a variety of writers.
Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven," is one of the most commonly taught poems of this type.
Then there are the classical, formulaic poems of Shakespeare’s time, such as the blank
verse and the sonnet. And finally there are the ancient, epic poems transcribed from
oral stories. These long, complex poems resemble novels, such as Homer’s The
Iliad and The Odyssey.

Prose

Once you know what poetry is, it’s easy to define prose. Prose can be defined as
any kind of written text that isn’t poetry (which means drama, discussed below, is
technically a type of prose). The most typical varieties of prose are novels and short
stories, while other types include letters, diaries, journals, and non-fiction (also
discussed below). Prose is written in complete sentences and organized in paragraphs.
Instead of focusing on sound, which is what poetry does, prose tends to focus on plot
and characters.
Prose is the type of literature read most often in English classrooms. Any novel
or short story falls into this category, from Jane Eyre to Twilight and from “A Sound of
Thunder" to “The Crucible." Like poetry, prose is broken down into a large number of
other sub-genres. Some of these genres revolve around the structure of the text, such
as novellas, biographies, and memoirs, and others are based on the subject matter, like
romances, fantasies, and mysteries.

Drama

Any text meant to be performed rather than read can be considered drama
(unless it’s a poem meant to be performed, of course). In layman’s terms, dramas are
usually called plays. When written down the bulk of a drama is dialogue, with periodic
stage directions such as “he looks away angrily." Of all the genres of literature
discussed in this article, drama is the one given the least time in most classrooms. And
often when drama is taught, it’s only read the same way you might read a novel. Since
dramas are meant to be acted out in front of an audience, it’s hard to fully appreciate
them when looking only at pages of text. Students respond best to dramas, and grasp
their mechanics more fully, when exposed to film or theater versions or encouraged to
read aloud or act out scenes during class.
The dramas most commonly taught in classrooms are definitely those written by
the bard. Shakespeare’s plays are challenging, but rewarding when approached with a
little effort and a critical mindset. Popular choices from his repertoire
include Hamlet, Taming of the Shrew, and Romeo and Juliet, among others. Older
Greek plays are also taught fairly often, especially Sophocles’ Antigone. And any good
drama unit should include more modern plays for comparison, such as Arthur
Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

Non-Fiction

Poetry and drama both belong to the broader category of fiction—texts that
feature events and characters that have been made up. Then there is non-fiction, a vast
category that is a type of prose and includes many different sub-genres. Non-fiction can
be creative, such as the personal essay, or factual, such as the scientific paper.
Sometimes the purpose of non-fiction is to tell a story (hence the autobiography), but
most of the time the purpose is to pass on information and educate the reader about
certain facts, ideas, and/or issues.

Some genres of non-fiction include histories, textbooks, travel books,


newspapers, self-help books, and literary criticism. A full list of non-fiction types would
be at least as long as this entire article. But the varieties most often used in the
classroom are textbooks, literary criticism, and essays of various sorts. Most of what
students practice writing in the classroom is the non-fiction essay, from factual to
personal to persuasive. And non-fiction is often used to support and expand students’
understanding of fiction texts—after reading Hamlet students might read critical articles
about the play and historical information about the time period and/or the life of
Shakespeare.

Media

The newest type of literature that has been defined as a distinct genre is media.
This categorization was created to encompass the many new and important kinds of
texts in our society today, such as movies and films, websites, commercials, billboards,
and radio programs. Any work that doesn’t exist primarily as a written text can probably
be considered media, particularly if it relies on recently developed technologies. Media
literature can serve a wide variety of purposes—among other things it can educate,
entertain, advertise, and/or persuade.
More and more educators are coming to recognize the importance of teaching
media in the classroom. Students are likely to be exposed to far more of this type of
literature than anything else throughout their lives, so it makes sense to teach them how
to be critical and active consumers of media. Internet literacy is a growing field, for
example, since the skills required to understand and use online information differ in
important ways from the skills required to analyze printed information. Teaching media
literacy is also a great way for educators to help students become participants in their
own culture, through lessons on creating their own websites or home movies or
commercials.

Other Types of Literature

These are far from the only important genres of literature. Here are a few more
that are sometimes used in classrooms:
Oral Literature: The oldest type of literature, and the foundation on which culture was
built. Now most oral texts have been written down, of course, and are usually taught in
the form of epic poems or plays or folk tales.

Folklore/Folk Tales/Fables: A distinction is often made between regular prose and


folklore. Most folk tales were originally oral literature, and are short stories meant to
pass on a particular lesson or moral. They often have a timeless quality, dealing with
common human concerns that are just as relevant to us today, while still being products
of a very specific culture and time period.

Graphic Novels and Comic Books: It used to be that most educators saw comic
books as the lowest form of literature, not suitable or valuable for children. But times
have changed, and many teachers have come to realize that comic books and the more
modern graphic novels are both appealing to kids and are a valid form of literature in
their own right.

History of Literature

Pre-Colonial Times (before 1521, the year when Ferdinand Magellan landed on the
Philippine islands)

Pre-colonial inhabitants of the Philippines had folk speeches, folk songs, folk
narratives and indigenous rituals and mimetic dances that affirm ties with our Southeast
Asian neighbors.

The most influential of these folk speeches is the riddle (tigmo in Cebuano,
bugtong in Tagalog, paktakon in Ilongo, and patototdon in Bicol). Central to the riddle is
the talinghaga or metaphor, which reveals subtle resemblances between two unlike
objects, and tests one's power of observation and wit.

The proverbs or aphorisms express norms or codes of behavior and community


beliefs. They also instill values by offering nuggets of wisdom in short, rhyming verse.

The extended form of the proverb, the tanaga, which expresses insights and
lessons on life is more emotionally charged than the proverb, revealing affinities with the
folk lyric. Examples are the basahanon, or extended didactic sayings, from Bukidnon and
the daraida and the daragilon from Panay.

The folk song is a form of folk lyric which expresses the people's hopes and
aspirations, and chronicles their lifestyles and romantic lives.

A few examples of folk songs are the lullabies or Ili-ili and love songs like the
panawagon and balitao in Ilongo; the harana or serenade in Cebuano; the bayok in
Maranao; the ambahan of the Mangyans, a seven-syllable per line poem about human
relationships and social entertainment which is also used in teaching the young; work
songs that depict the livelihood of the people, often sung to go with the movement of
workers, such as the kalusan of the Ivatan), the soliranin, a Tagalog rowing song, or the
mambayu, a Kalinga rice-pounding song; and verbal jousts or games like the duplo,
popularly played during wakes.

Other folk songs are the drinking songs like the tagay in Cebuano and Waray;
dirges and lamentations extolling the deeds of the dead like the kanogon in Cebuano or
the Annako of the Bontoc.

A type of narrative song among the Tausug of Mindanao, the parang sabil, tells
about the exploits of historical and legendary heroes. It tells the tale of a Muslim hero who
seeks death at the hands of non-Muslims.

The folk narratives are often explanation of the origins of things. Fables, on the
other hand, are about animals, and often teach moral lessons.

The Filipino epics revolve around supernatural events or heroic deeds, and they
embody or validate the beliefs and customs and ideals of a community. These are sung
or chanted to the accompaniment of indigenous musical instruments and dancing
performed during harvests, weddings, or funerals by chanters. The chanters who were
taught by their ancestors are considered "treasures" and/or repositories of wisdom in their
communities.

Examples of these epics are: Lam-ang (Ilocano); Hinilawod (Sulod); Kudama


(Palawan); Darangen (Maranao); Ulahingan (Livunganen-Arumanen Manobo);
Mangovayt Buhong na Langit (The Maiden of the Buhong Sky from Tuwaang—Manobo);
Ag Tobig neg Keboklagan (Subanon); and Tudbulol (T'boli).

Spanish Colonial Period (1521-1898)

The religion and institutions that represented European civilization, brought by the
Spanish colonizers, enriched the languages in the lowlands and introduced theater, which
we would come to know as komedya, the sinakulo, the sarswela, the playlets and the
drama. Spain also brought to the country liberal ideas and an internationalism that
influenced our own Filipino intellectuals and writers for them to understand the meanings
of "liberty and freedom."
Literature in this period may be classified as religious prose and poetry and secular
prose and poetry.

Religious lyrics written by ladino poets, those versed in both Spanish and Tagalog
were included in early catechism and were used to teach Filipinos the Spanish language.
Fernando Bagonbanta's "Salamat nang walang hanga/gracias de sin sempiternas"
(Unending thanks) is one such work found in the Memorial de la vida cristiana en lengua
tagala (Guidelines for the Christian life in the Tagalog language) published in 1605.

Other forms of religious lyrics is the meditative verses include the dalit, appended
to novenas and catechisms. They are written in octosyllabic quatrains and have a solemn
tone and spiritual subject matter.

Among the religious poetry of the day, it is the pasyon that became entrenched in
the Filipino's commemoration of Christ's agony and resurrection at Calvary. Gaspar
Aquino de Belen's "Ang Mahal na Passion ni Jesu Christong Panginoon natin na tola"
(Holy Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Verse) published in 1704 is the country's
earliest known pasyon. The pasyon is also recited in different native languages during the
Lenten Season.

There were also various kinds of prose narratives written during this period to
prescribe proper decorum. Like the pasyon, these prose narratives were also used for
proselytizing. Some forms include: dialogo (dialogue), Manual de Urbanidad (conduct
book); ejemplo (exemplum) and tratado. The most well-known of these are Modesto de
Castro's "Pagsusulatan ng Dalawang Binibini na si Urbana at si Feliza" (Correspondence
between the Two Maidens Urbana and Feliza) in 1864 and Joaquin Tuason's "Ang
Bagong Robinson" (The New Robinson) in 1879, an adaptation of a novel by Daniel
Defoe.

Secular works appeared alongside historical and economic changes and the
emergence of an opulent class and the middle class who could avail of a European
education. This Filipino elite could now read printed works that used to only be read by
the missionaries.

The most notable of the secular lyrics followed the conventions of a romantic
tradition: the languishing but loyal lover, the elusive, often heartless beloved, the rival.
The leading poets were Jose Corazon de Jesus (Huseng Sisiw) and Francisco Balagtas.
Some secular poets who wrote in this same tradition were Leona Florentino, Jacinto
Kawili, Isabelo de los Reyes and Rafael Gandioco.

Another popular secular poetry is the metrical romance, the awit and korido in
Tagalog, colorful tales of chivalry from European sources made for singing and chanting.
Examples are Gonzalo de Cordoba (Gonzalo of Cordoba) and the Ibong Adarna (Adarna
Bird). There are numerous metrical romances in Tagalog, Bicol, Ilongo, Pampango,
Ilocano and in Pangasinan. The awit became more popular with Balagtas' "Florante at
Laura" (circa 1838-1861), the most famous of the country's metrical romances.
In the 19th century, Filipino intellectuals educated in Europe called ilustrados
began to write about the downside of colonization. This, along with calls for reforms by
the masses gathered a formidable force of writers like Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar,
Mariano Ponce, Emilio Jacinto and Andres Bonifacio. This led to the formation of the
Propaganda Movement where prose works such as the political essays and Rizal's two
political novels, Noli Me Tangere and the El filibusterismo helped bring about the
Philippine revolution which toppled the Spanish regime and planted the seeds of a
national consciousness among Filipinos.

Other Filipino writers published the essay and short fiction in Spanish in
publications such as La Vanguardia, El Debate, Renacimiento Filipino, and Nueva Era.
The more notable essayists and fictionists were Claro M. Recto, Teodoro M. Kalaw,
Epifanio de los Reyes, Vicente Sotto, Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, Rafael Palma, Enrique
Laygo, and Balmori, who mastered the prosa romantica or romantic prose.

The American Colonial Period (1898-1940s)

During the American occupatin, new literary forms such as the free verse in poetry,
the modern short story and the critical essay were introduced.

The poet, and later, National Artist for Literature, Jose Garcia Villa used free verse
and espoused the dictum, "Art for art's sake" to the chagrin of other writers more
concerned with the utilitarian aspect of literature. Another maverick in poetry who used
free verse and talked about illicit love in her poetry was Angela Manalang Gloria, a woman
poet described as ahead of her time. Despite the threat of censorship by the new
dispensation, more writers turned up "seditious works" and popular writing in the native
languages bloomed through the weekly outlets like Liwayway and Bisaya.

The Balagtas tradition persisted until the poet Alejandro G. Abadilla advocated
modernism in poetry. Abadilla later influenced young poets who wrote modern verses in
the 1960s such as Virgilio S. Almario, Pedro I. Ricarte and Rolando S. Tinio.

Filipino writers adjusted easily to the modern short story as published in the
Philippines Free Press, the College Folio and Philippines Herald. Paz Marquez Benitez's
"Dead Stars" published in 1925 was the first successful short story in English written by
a Filipino. Later on, Arturo B. Rotor and Manuel E. Arguilla showed exceptional skills with
the short story.

Writers in the vernaculars continued to write in the provinces. Others like Lope K.
Santos, Valeriano Hernandez Peña and Patricio Mariano were writing minimal narratives
similar to the early Tagalog short fiction called dali or pasingaw (sketch).

By the 1930s, English writing had overtaken Spanish writing, due to the
introduction of English as medium of instruction. Writing in the romantic tradition,
however, would continue in the novels of Magdalena Jalandoni. But patriotic writing
continued under the new colonialists. These appeared in the vernacular poems and
modern adaptations of works during the Spanish period and which further maintained the
Spanish tradition.

The romantic tradition was fused with American pop culture or European
influences in the adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan by F. P. Boquecosa who
also penned Ang Palad ni Pepe as an adaptation of David Copperfield by Charles
Dickens, even as the realist tradition was kept alive in the novels by Lope K. Santos and
Faustino Aguilar, among others.

The novel in the vernaculars continued to be written and serialized in weekly


magazines like Liwayway, Bisaya, Hiligaynon and Bannawag.

The essay in English became a potent medium from the 1920's to the present.
Some leading essayists were journalists like Carlos P. Romulo, Jorge Bocobo, Pura
Santillan Castrence, etc. who wrote formal to humorous to informal essays.

Among those who wrote criticism developed during the American period were
Ignacio Manlapaz, Leopoldo Yabes and I.V. Mallari. But it was Salvador P. Lopez's
criticism that grabbed attention when he won the Commonwealth Literary Award for the
essay in 1940 with his "Literature and Society." This essay posited that art must have
substance and that Villa's adherence to "Art for Art's Sake" is decadent.

The last throes of American colonialism saw the flourishing of Philippine literature
in English at the same time, with the introduction of the New Critical aesthetics, made
writers pay close attention to craft and "indirectly engendered a disparaging attitude"
towards vernacular writings -- a tension that would recur in the contemporary period.

The Contemporary Period (1950s to present)

The flowering of Philippine literature in the various languages continued with the
appearance of new publications after the Martial Law years and the resurgence of
committed literature in the 1960s and the 1970s.

Filipino writers continued to write poetry, short stories, novellas, novels and essays
whether these are socially committed, gender/ethnic related or are personal in intention
or not.

The various literary awards such as the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for
Literature, the Philippines Free Press, Philippine Graphic, Home Life and Panorama
literary awards encourage the Filipino writer to compete with his peers and hope that his
creative efforts will be rewarded in the long run.

Nowadays, with the new requirement by the Commission on Higher Education of


teaching of Philippine Literature in all tertiary schools in the country emphasizing the
teaching of the vernacular literature or literatures of the regions, the audience for Filipino
writers is virtually assured.