Cornell University

Edlie Wong, "The Black Pacific: U.S. Empire, the 'Colored American Magazine,' and José Rizal's 'Noli Me Tangere' in Translation

Thursday, April 18, 2024 at 5:00pm

A. D. White House, Guerlac Room
29 East Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

The Black Pacific: U.S. Empire, the Colored American Magazine, and José Rizal's Noli Me Tangere in Translation by Edlie Wong

The transnational turn in American literary studies has forged new epistemologies and approaches for thinking about post-national cultural forms while centering empire and imperialism in the development of U.S. culture. My talk reviews these critical conversations and takes up the recent concept of the Black Pacific to examine how the redefinition of the U.S. as an empire-state rather than as a nation-state has transformed the study of race and comparative racialization in the long nineteenth century. In so doing, my talk considers some lesser-studied Black American writings on and responses to the Philippine-American War as part of an emerging Black American discourse on the Pacific, as Asia became more geopolitically significant to the U.S. The essay pays particular attention to publications from the era’s most influential Black literary magazine, the Boston-based Colored American Magazine. Specifically, it examines the complex Black American reception history of José Rizal’s landmark novel of Filipino nationalism, Noli Me Tangere (1887), which was translated from Spanish into English and published in the U.S. as two dramatically different abridged novels in 1900.

Edlie Wong is Associate Chair and Professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is the author of Racial Reconstruction: Black Inclusion, Chinese Exclusion, and the Fictions of Citizenship (NYU 2015) and Neither Fugitive nor Free: Atlantic Slavery, Freedom Suits, and the Legal Culture of Travel (NYU 2009), and the co-editor of a scholarly edition of George Lippard’s The Killers (UPenn 2014). Her work has also appeared in such journals as PMLAAmerican Literary HistorySocial TextAmerican LiteratureAfrican American Review, American Literary Realism and American Periodicals. She is currently at work on a book project under contract with Cambridge entitled, Black Pacific: American Empire and the Long Reconstruction. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Mellon Foundation and served as the President of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists (2020-22).

Q&A to follow lecture.


This event is presented by the Department of Literatures in English

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English, Southeast Asia Program


cascal, cashum, engl

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Ilyana Castillo

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