ELECLIT A53 | Term 1, AY 2018-19 | Undergraduate
Tuesdays and Thursdays | 1245 to 1415 PM | L312
Department of Literature, De La Salle University Philippines – Manila
Instructor: Dr. Carlos M. Piocos III | Caloy | piocos.carlos@gmail.com | www.carlospiocos.com


Course Description:

According to Walter Benjamin, “there can be no document of civilisation which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” Our own histories often tell us that any step forward towards modernity and progress have always been coupled by various forms of brutality, in nation-state wars, deracination, ethnic and religious violence, state fascism and extrajudicial killings, impoverishment, domestic violence, etc. These forms of barbarity always leave traces in our culture as writers, filmmakers and artists confront these traumas by testifying against the atrocities of our times through words and images. This course will look at how state violence and trauma are portrayed in films and other media texts to understand how they shape and inform the ways in which we view power and resistance in our culture. The approach will be interdisciplinary, sifting through philosophical essays, historical documents, popular culture, social media, and ethnographies to complicate the visual and filmic texts in the syllabus. The course will focus on Southeast Asia.

Course Readings: Click on the title of the required readings to access and download the pdf versions of readings. 

Course Schedule:

Sep 11 Course Introduction
Sep 13 Film Showing: Goran Olsson, Concerning Violence (2014)
Sep 18 Violence in the Colonial World

Required Reading: Franz Fanon, “Concerning Violence,” The Wretched of

the Earth, pp. 35-106.

Sep 20 The Violence of Law

Required Reading: Walter Benjamin, “Critique of Violence,” pp. 277-300.

Sep 25 State Power and State Violence

Required Reading: Hannah Arendt, On Violence, pp.3-56.

Oct 2 Film Showing: Joshua Oppenheimer, The Act of Killing (2012)
Oct 4 Film Showing: Joshua Oppenheimer, The Look of Silence (2014)
Oct 16 Postcolonial State Violence and Trauma

Required Readings and Group Presentations:

Group 1

·       Lemelson R. “Refusing to Look Away: The Act of Killing and the Indonesian genocide of 1965.” Anthropology Now. August 2, 2013. Available at http://anthronow.com/online-articles/ refusing-to-look-away-the-act-of-killing-and-the-indonesiangenocide-of-1965/. Accessed September 29, 2014

·       Pohlman, Annie E. “Film Review: The Act of Killing.” Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal 9:2, 131-134.

Group 2

·       Cribb R, Ford M: “The killings of 1965– 66.” Originally published in Edition 99, January-March 2010. Reprinted in Edition 117, Inside Indonesia. July-September 2014. Available at http://www.insideindonesia.org/feature-editions/the-killingsof-1965-66/

·       Rafter, Nicole. “Film Review: The Look of Silence.” Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal 9:2, 135-137.

Oct 18 Bare Life, Before the Law

Required Reading: Agamben, Giorgio. Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and

Bare Life. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998, excerpts.

Oct 23 The State Politics of Death

Required Reading: Mbembe, Achilles. “Necropolitics.” Public Culture 15 1

(2003): pp. 11-40.

Submission of Creative Project Proposal

Oct 25 Required Film: Rithy Panh’s The Missing Picture (2013)
Oct 30 Required Film: John Pirozzi, Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost

Rock and Roll (2014)

Nov 1 Holiday

Take Home Films: Film Showing: Anders Ostergaard, Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country (2008), Kim Murdaunt’s The Rocket (2013), Kunnawut Boonreak, Michaels (2016) and Arbi Barbarona, Pagbarug Tu Pagtuon (2017)


Nov 6, 8 and 13 Submission of Final Paper Proposal


Acts of Remembering and Resistance

Required Readings and Group Presentations:

Group 3

·       Lim, Alvin Cheng-Hin. “Reassembling memory: Rithy Panh’s S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine.” In The New Violent Cartography: Geo-analysis after the aesthetic turn, edited by Sam Okoth Opondo and Michael J. Shapira. (Routledge: London and New York, 2012), pp. 118-133.

·       Zylberman, Lior. “The Missing Picture – Film Review.” Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal 8:3, 103-105-134.

Group 4

·       Saphan, Linda. “From Modern Rock to Postmodern Hard Rock: Cambodian Alternative Music Voices.” Ethnic Studies Review 35:1-2, 23–40.

·       Saphan, Linda. From Cambodia with Love (Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia Lost Rock and Roll Soundtrack Booklet).

Group 5

·       Devi, Konsam Shakila. “Myanmar under Military Rule 1962-1988.” International Research Journal of Social Sciences, 3:10, 46-50.

·       Dawson, Nick. “Anders Ostergaard, Burma VJ” Link: http://filmmakermagazine.com/4696-anders-stergaard-burma-vj-by-nick-dawson/#.WRHpz7yGOV4


Displacements and Other Everyday Violence

Required Readings and Group Presentations:

Group 6

·       Khamvongsa, Channapha and Elaine Russell. “Legacies of War: Cluster Bombs in Laos.” Critical Asian Studies 41:2, 281-306.

·       Frewer, Tim. “The Rocket—abandonment and becoming in rural Laos.” Australian Geographer 45:1, 87-92.

Group 7

·       Eng, Jordan. “Straddling Statelessness: The Rohingya of Myanmar.” In Prospect Journal.

Alamon, Arnold P. “Wars of Extinction: The Lumad Killings in Mindanao Philippines.” Link: https://kyotoreview.org/issue-21/lumad-killings-philippines/


Nov 15 Synthesis and Consultation for Final Papers
Nov 20 No Class: Writing of Final Papers
Nov 22 No Class: Writing of Final Papers
Nov 27 No Class: Writing of Final Papers
Nov 29 No Class: Submission of Final Papers via Turnitin before 5pm
Dec 4 Presentation of Creative Group Projects
Dec 6 Consultation and Submission of Revision; Deadline: 5pm, Submission of the soft copy of Revised Final Paper via Turnitin, and hard copy in the instructor’s pigeonhole at the Literature Department
August 15: No Class (Finals Week)
April 17: No Class (Finals Week) Release of Final Grades

Course Requirements:

  1. Final Paper Proposal

You should submit a final paper proposal in class on Nov 8, 2018. A paper proposal is a one or two pages of plan for a longer final paper to be submitted at the end of the semester. It should be in the form of a SENTENCE outline. It should provide details on what the student plan to write for his or her final paper: a tentative main argument that explores the nature of state violence and trauma, an outline of preliminary supporting claims and analyses of both a critical concept from an academic text and a critical engagement of two films/visual texts, and list of works that the student plans to analyze. A student should choose at least ONE film from the course syllabus, and ANOTHER visual text (a film, a short vide, photograph series, painting etc.) that reflects Philippine state violence. The student should also be able to analyze these two visual texts according to a critical theme or concept he or she has learned from class discussion. The final paper proposal will be submitted in class on Nov 8, 2018.

  1. Final Paper

Your final paper proposal needs to be approved by the instructor first before you can proceed writing the paper. The student is required to submit a 6,000-word essay (around twenty pages, double spaced) based on the approved paper proposal that he or she has earlier submitted. The final paper should be about two selected works (one from the syllabus and one is a work of your choice of visual text that portrays Philippine state violence or trauma). The student must be able to explore and probe the possibilities of comparing the two texts according to a central problem, issue or thesis raised in class discussions. He or she must use secondary research materials to further examine these visual texts and the issues and problems that came out from the discussions. The student must follow MLA style guide to document his or her sources. For information, consult the website: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

Plagiarism will not be tolerated. The student will either incur a 0.0 in the Final Paper Grade or 0.0 (Failing) in the Actual Final Grade or a Failing grade and a Disciplinary Case depending on the gravity of violation.

Deadline: Nov 29, 2018, 5pm (soft copy: Turnitin | hard copy: instructor’s pigeonhole).

Turnitin details: Class ID: 19037298| Enrolment Key: villanelle

  1. Group Project Proposal

Your group should submit a creative project proposal in class on June 15. Your project proposal is a one-page plan for your creative project. It should briefly describe the topic of your project, the creative medium/media of your project (short documentary, art photography, flash film, creative ethnography, music, poetry suite, flash fiction series, one-act play, short teleplay, etc.), the subject matter of state violence or trauma that your project will portray and a short discussion on how your work will illuminate or bring forward insights on Philippine state violence and trauma. You proposal should be submitted in class on Oct 11, 2018.

  1. Creative Group Project

Your group project proposal needs to be approved by the instructor first before you can proceed executing your group project. The class will be divided into groups. Each group should be able to make a creative project documenting the lives or issues of an individual or a collective that can be considered suffering from state violence and trauma. The group can choose any creative form or media (short documentary, art photography, flash film, creative ethnography, music, poetry suite, flash fiction series, one-act play, short teleplay, etc.). The group can also connect with community leaders of minority groups, advocacy and support groups or non-profit organizations dealing with distressed subjects to help shape their project. Their creative group project will be presented in class on Dec 4, 2018.

  1. Group Report/Presentation

You will work with your groups (from creative project grouping) to also facilitate a 30-minute presentation and discussion on an assigned film/s and the relevant required readings. Your group should be able to introduce the key terms/concepts and main arguments covered by an essay/film review and show how it applies to particular parts of the film. Your group needs to execute close and critical reading by isolating important scenes in the film and passages from the essays, provoking the whole class to respond to your selected excerpts and facilitating a healthy exchange of ideas from your other classmates.

  1. Attendance and Class Participation

You will be given ONE point for each of your attendance in class (which includes sessions of film showing or group presentation). This point will be reduced when you come in late in class (after the initial roll call). Students who have perfect attendance will be given FIVE incentive points to the total of their grade (which is equivalent to a .5 increase in their grades). Excused absences will not be given any point and does not qualify a student for a perfect attendance incentive.

Depending on the insight of your recitation, you are going to be given ONE to THREE points each time you contribute to class discussions in both lectures and group presentations (where you are not a member reporting). A recitation that critically interprets and interrogates ideas from our required readings and films, citing particular passages and pages from a text, is highly valued. The student’s 15% grade for class participation will be set against the average grade of the whole class’ highest and lowest pointers. Those who will get more than the class average grade will retain their excess points as incentive.


Class policies:

  1. On excessive absences

You required to attend all class sessions, come to class on time and actively participate in discussions. He/she must come to class prepared, bringing the assigned readings at hand on the day as indicated in the course syllabus. He/she must be ready to talk about the class material/s and engage with the instructor and classmates.  You are only allowed 5 unexcused absences. You will automatically be given 0.0 for your grade if you got 6 unexcused absences. Excused absences

  1. The use of electronic gadget/s in class

Once the instructor calls the class into order, you should put away your gadgets immediately. You CANNOT use your gadgets inside the classroom. Any number of things will happen to your gadget/s (laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.) once the instructor sees it during class session: 1.) it will be confiscated, 2.) the instructor can read and share to the whole class what he can find on your gadget/s, or 3.) the instructor can use your gadget in front of the class (explore your social media, respond to the messages you are receiving, etc.

  1. On plagiarism

Take note that all written outputs are submitted on Turnitin. This shows how much your instructor demands intellectual rigor and originality for you as Literature majors. Plagiarism is a serious offence in this course and at the University. Presenting ideas, words and works of another person/s as if it is one’s own or presenting them without observing proper citation constitutes plagiarism. Any student who commits such act is liable to disciplinary action: automatic 0.0 in this course and/or a case at SDTO.

  1. On proper documentation of sources

This course follows the MLA guideline in documenting sources in all the writing requirements. For information, consult the website: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

  1. On late and/or non-submission of course work:

You must complete ALL requirements to pass this course. He or she must submit the final paper proposal, final paper, group project proposal and the creative project of your group on or before the assigned deadline. Late submission of these requirements will only be accepted under exceptional circumstances, and is subject to deduction in marking. If a student has a good reason to request for an extension, he or she must email the instructor a week in advance.


Consultation Hours: You may visit the instructor at Department of Literature, 3F Faculty Center, on his consultation hours: 1 to 5 PM on Wednesdays and Fridays. Email the instructor one day before to ensure the schedule of appointment.

Please note: This syllabus is subject to change. Note any alterations made by the instructor immediately.


Course Instructor:

Dr. Carlos Piocos III
Associate Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Literature, 3/F Faculty Center, DLSU-Manila
Consultation Hours: Wednesdays and Fridays, 1-5 PM
Email: piocos.carlos@gmail.com | carlos.piocos@dlsu.edu.ph
Website: www.carlospiocos.com