Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, Tom Sykes will host a public Research Seminar on the 14th of February in Eldon Building, room 0.20, between 5 pm and 7 pm.
The Seminar is open to staff and students, as well as members of the public.
The lecture is based around Tom’s research, and is entitled: ‘I Wish You to Kill and Burn’: Genocide, Memory and Orientalist Rhetoric in Anglo-American Fiction and Narrative Non-Fiction on the US Conquest of the Philippines (1898-1902). An abstract of which can be found below.
The US military intervention in the Philippines was arguably the foundational event in American imperialism. Described by the historian Dylan Rodriguez as a ‘white supremacist genocide’, this asymmetrical conflict bore chilling parallels with later US campaigns in Vietnam and Iraq. Brigadier General Jacob Smith instructed his troops to slaughter any Filipino of either gender over the age of ten.
‘I want no prisoners,’ he said. ‘I wish you to kill and burn. The more you kill and burn the better it will please me.’ US infantrymen used torture by water-boarding for the first time, prompting Lieutenant Grover Flint to observe of a victim, ‘His sufferings must be that of a man who is drowning, but cannot drown.’
Driven by a number of imperialist, colonialist and Social Darwinist assumptions, a discourse of British and American popular novels, literary journalism and travel writing of the period textually produces the war in ways that omit, distort or excuse the brutal conduct of the US military.
Inspired by research into Orientalist rhetoric by Edward Said and David Spurr, Tom examines a number of specific representational tropes, linguistic devices and narrative strategies. He considers the ‘reactionary forgetting’ of the Philippine-American War in more recent Western texts and the contesting of this discourse by contemporary Filipino writers and historiographers.
To contact Tom, you can email him on Tom.Sykes@port.ac.uk
This lecture is a part of a series of Research Seminars, organised by Lincoln Geraghty, Stephen Harper, Laurel Forster, and Deborah Shaw; hosted by the Culture and Conflict Research Group, and the Media, Culture and Communication Research Group.
Image Credits: Photo by John-Mark Kuznietsov on Unsplash