This public syllabus wants to contextualize musical ‘Here Lies Love’
Sulo: The Philippine Studies Initiative at New York University (NYU) has helped release a public syllabus on Filipino-American Broadway musical “Here Lies Love” in commemoration of the 51st anniversary of the announcement of Martial Law in the Philippines.
Martial law has been a touchy topic for many Filipinos, both abroad and in the Philippines. The Broadway musical “Here Lies Love” (which debuted roughly a year into Ferdinand “BongBong” Marcos Jr.’s presidential win) has brought the conversation back to the forefront.
👠 HERE LIES LOVE fans: Don’t miss this week’s public program—with syllabus by @nyusteinhardt‘s @lara_malaya and @CUNY‘s @DrNerveV—to contextualize and complicate the hit disco-pop musical based on the life of Imelda Marcos. 🤔
🗓 Sept. 20-21 at KJCC: https://t.co/W6713k791w
— New York University (@nyuniversity) September 17, 2023
The syllabus was prepared by Nerve V. Macaspac and Lara Saguisag. Macaspac is a political geographer and is currently serving as an assistant professor of Information Studies at the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies (GSLIS) at Queens College.
Saguisag is currently the Georgiu chair of children’s literature and literacy program at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and a published children’s book author. Her current research and teaching revolves around climate and energy justice movements.
Both Macaspac and Saguisag are also graduates of the University of the Philippines Diliman.
The syllabus’ purpose is to help contextualize the hip-swaying musical’s history into the grander scheme of the point in history it belonged to.
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“‘Here Lies Love in Critical Contexts’ is a practice of paying attention to every beat and every false note, of hearing through distractions and distortions of tyrants. We hope this public syllabus strengthens our capacity and resolve to never again dance with dictators,” reads the end of the syllabus’ introduction.
The musical has been hailed by many for featuring the first all-Filipino Broadway cast, but there have been criticisms surrounding the show, specifically for glamorizing (and minimizing) the Marcos dictatorship and glossing over Imelda Marcos’s role in one of the Philippines’ most horrifying eras.
Some of the syllabus’ key points are ”Imelda Marcos’s active role in the dictatorship; the US government’s support of the Marcoses and their regime; the transformative role of protests, including protest expressed through film, literature, songs, and the visual arts; and the vibrant people’s movements that brought an end to the dictatorship.”
“Here Lies Love in Critical Contexts: A Public Syllabus” is a compilation of readings and resources that help contextualize and complicate David Byrne and Fatboy Slim’s #HereLiesLove, which was first staged at The Public in 2013 and premiered on Broadway in July 2023. (1/5) pic.twitter.com/DyAiYwhQWn
— herelieslovesyllabus (@hll_syllabus) September 13, 2023
“We also created this public syllabus as an open love letter to Filipino artists, journalists, activists, students, and scholars in the homeland and the diaspora. Featuring a chorus of Filipino voices, this public syllabus hopes to generate conversations about our shared goal of meaningful democratic social change in the Philippines,” the authors wrote in the syllabus’ acknowledgments.
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While the syllabus isn’t a full blown course being offered at NYU, it can be taught (or learned independently) thanks to all the collected materials by the authors.
You can access the full 12-week syllabus here.