Literature Talk: Noli Me Tángere (Touch Me Not)

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It’s Filipino American History Month



Join Professor John D. Blanco of UCSD’s Literature Department for a presentation on the influence and central role in the Filipino literary tradition of national martyr José Rizal’s history changing classic, Noli Me Tángere (Latin for Touch Me Not). It helped to create a unified Filipino national identity and has inspired key moments in Filipino history such as the Filipino Revolution of 1896, Filipino Independence, and the subsequent Filipino-American War of 1899.


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In its 135th year of publication, Noli Me Tángere remains the most important Filipino novel ever published.  More than this, it's the most comprehensive catalog of colonial society - its characters, dramas, and conflicts - and the most succinct symbolic drama of the Philippines at a crossroads between a decaying Spanish empire and the rise of European and US imperialisms in Southeast Asia.  The title, taken from the New Testament book of John (20:17), refers to the ambiguous moment after Jesus' resurrection, when he tells Mary Magdalene not to touch him.  In Rizal's hands, the phrase also comes to signify the "untouchable," unspoken scandal of colonial corruption and pastoral abuse in the closing decade of Spanish rule.


Noli Me Tángere is required reading for students in the Philippines. Library cardholders who wish to read the work prior to the talk may borrow a copy from SDPL.  The original Spanish and translations in English and Tagalog may be found respectively online.



Dr. Blanco teaches comparative literature and cultural studies at UCSD with a focus on comparing Southeast Asian, Asian-American and Latin American literatures and cultures in the context of colonialism and post-colonial independence. He’s the author of Frontier Constitutions: Christianity and Colonial Empire in the Nineteenth Century Philippines which examines the role played by the Church as well as the natives in the transformation of Spanish colonialism and the rise of anti-colonial nationalism in the Philippines at the end of the 19th  century. His current research examines the rise of early trans-Pacific forms of cultural globalization during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.




Coming to Central Library


Parking is underneath the Central Library, FREE with 2-hour validation. The library is one block from the Park & Market stop on the Trolley Blue and Orange lines.  Bus routes 12, 901, and 929 stop right in front of the library at the 11th Avenue and K Street stop.