Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in English, Literature



Major Advisor

Jacqueline O'Connor, Ph.D.


Gautam Basu Thakur, Ph.D.


Shelton Woods, Ph.D.


The cultural emphasis placed on José Rizal’s execution in 1896 has overshadowed his life and renders his novels Touch Me Not and El Filibusterismo unfamiliar to Western readership and postcolonial scholars. Since his novels emphasize the difficult questions about the absence of progress and ethnic identity for the indigenous populace, I argue that to read them for plot alone is to overlook his main focus: the formation of the Filipino identity.

In light of Spain’s historical treatment of its colonies, my work responds to the lack of attention given to Touch Me Not and El Filibusterismo as integral texts of 19th century nationalist discourse by underscoring the innovativeness of Rizal’s political goals for the Philippines. I utilize interdisciplinary inquiry of postcolonial and nationalist commentary to elucidate his anti-colonial stances through character and textual analyses. To assist my arguments, I consult the foundational postcolonial texts of Homi K. Bhabha, Frantz Fanon, Edward W. Said, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and the nationalist discourses of Benedict Anderson and Partha Chatterjee.