Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, 286 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Eric Keenaghan

Committee Members

Paul Stasi, Pierre Joris, Martin Joseph Ponce


aesthetic autonomy, art for art's sake, creative writing studies, Philippine poetry, postcolonial literature, postcolonial poetry in English, Philippine poetry (English), Poets, Filipino, Protest poetry, Philippine (English), Aesthetics, Philippine

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Asian Studies | Creative Writing


This study examines the autonomy of art as a governing principle in the artistic practice of Filipino poets in English. The Western modernist ideal of art for art’s sake was transplanted to the Philippines via the educational system implemented during the American occupation in the early twentieth century. As appropriated in colonial Philippines, what is historically regarded as a form of artistic resistance to the capitalist and rapidly industrializing society of the West is traditionally read as a withdrawal of participation by colonial and postcolonial literary writers from the political realm. The writer who subscribes to art for art’s sake supposedly fetishizes form in itself and simply has no stake in lived realities and no role in the production of a national literature. Authoring Autonomy interrogates the division between aesthetics and politics that occurs when the autonomy of art is presumed to be incompatible with the work of social transformation. It accounts for the potential and limits of autonomy as a form of critical intervention through studying the work of three Filipino poets: José Garcia Villa, Edith Tiempo, and Jose F. Lacaba. Drawing from the work of critics who have problematized the politics of aesthetic autonomy, including Theodor Adorno and Roberto Schwarz, this study examines how Filipino poets have authored autonomy in ways that comply with, disturb, or resist the status quo. It also includes a poetics essay and a collection of poetry, which articulate, both critically and creatively, my poetic practice as informed by my understanding of how autonomy is authored in ways that are cognizant of postcolonial conditions and anxieties.