THOMASIANS taking up literature subjects will have to read less Anglo-American text for more “global” readings starting this school year.

To update the general education curriculum, UST will replace Introduction to Literary Types and Forms with World Literatures, which will now be Literature 101.

Armando De Jesus, vice-rector for academic affairs, said the old Introduction to Literary Types and Forms was focused on British and American literatures or European text translated into English.

“The previous subject did not take African literature,” De Jesus said. “This school year, the new curriculum will evaluate readings from various regions of Asia, Latin America and Africa.”

The innovation is also pursuant to the Commission on Higher Education’s (CHED) Memorandum Order No. 59 in 1996, which mandates that the Lit 101 subject “must cover the literatures of the world and should focus on the literatures of all the continents, from the beginnings of civilization to the present.”

Updating the syllabus

Since 2004, Literature professors have been pilot-testing selections from Southeast Asian, South American and African literature in their classes.

“We discussed the syllabi in different forums and we incorporated suggestions from literature professors on what selections to include,” Faculty of Arts and Letters Literature professor Ferdinand Lopez said.

With the new selections gaining positive response from the instructors, the General Education’s Committee on Literature headed by Lopez updated the previous Lit 101 and Lit 102 (Philippine Literature) syllabi this year.

The new Lit 101 syllabus will include selections like “Telephone Conversation” by Wole Soynka from Nigeria, “Chignon” by Chi Chun of Taiwan, and “Diameter of a Bomb” by Yehuda Amichai from Israel.

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The university-wide Literature syllabus contains five to six literary pieces arranged thematically, but not all of them will be discussed in every class taking up Lit 101 and 102. The themes are taken from significant human experiences, such as love, search for identity, and national or global concerns. Literature professors will identify certain selections from each theme that they deem best for their classes, practicing in the process relative academic freedom.

“This will give leeway to Literature professors so they can respond to the needs of students with regard to their discipline,” Lopez said.

Standard textbook

With the revised curriculum, the Academic Affairs Office is working on a standardized literature textbook for all colleges. Thomasians, for the meantime, may have to settle for readings provided by their literature professors.

Lopez said that the textbook may take another year to finish as they still have to secure the copyright from different publishers of local and international selections.

But the textbook, Lopez said, will be authored by Thomasian professors.

“We wanted to make our students familiar with writers from the University,” Lopez said.

Lopez said that the new textbook and curriculum will be sensitive to gender and regional differences.

“We made it sure that all continents will be represented. Philippine literature will not be Luzon-based and writings from Mindanao will be adapted,” he said.

In choosing the selections, the English language will not only be the main source of literary materials. As stated in CHED’s memorandum, “texts should be read in either the Filipino or English translation, if they were not originally written in English.” This means that selections will not only come from authors using the English language, but also from writers whose works have been translated from their native tongues into English. These translations were also screened by the literature committee, in case there was more than one translation of the text.

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As for Lit 102, CHED has left it the discretion of higher education institutions whether Philippine literature will be taught in both English and Filipino languages. In UST, both languages will be integrated in literature, officials said.

While the new Literature curriculum may mean more readings for students, it will expose them to diverse literary expressions as well as lead to a deeper appreciation of heterogenous texts. Myla Jasmine U. Bantog

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