Paul Nadal is an interdisciplinary scholar working at the intersection of literature and economy, with a particular focus on Asian American and Philippine Anglophone literature. Reading across literary and economic history, he brings archival research to the study of the novel and Marxist aesthetic theory to develop a multiscalar reading practice that elaborates historical meaning contextually and in the form of the work itself.
Professor Nadal brings these research interests together in his current book project, Remittances, Literary and Economic, which develops the first sustained inquiry into the convergence between novels and remittances, or the money that migrant workers send home. Theorizing remittances not only as currency but as a heuristic for reading intersecting circulations of literature, people, ideas, and value, the book uncovers the surprising role that English-language literature played in the twentieth-century transformation of the Philippines into one of the world’s largest labor export economies. It argues that an important precursor to the migrant worker was the overseas writer, whose narratives of return envisaged remittances as comprising forms of labor that are part of, but remain irreducible to, market calculations of social life. His second project extends his ongoing interest in Marxist aesthetic theory and literary and economic history through a dual study of neoliberalism’s racial forms and Asian American literary emergence, tracing today’s digitally-driven knowledge economy to Cold War-era debates about race, family, time, and neoliberal human capital formation.
Professor Nadal’s article, “Cold War Remittance Economy: US Creative Writing and the Importation of New Criticism into the Philippines,” published in American Quarterly 73.3 (2021), received the 1921 Best Essay Prize, which is annually awarded by the American Literature Society for "the best article in any field of American literature." Another article, “A Literary Remittance,” on the rise of literary realism in the Filipino Novel in English, was published in American Literature 89.3 (2017). Articles on Carlos Bulosan’s socialist imaginaries, and on the racial forms of Chicago School neoliberalism are forthcoming.
He earned his Ph.D. in rhetoric from the University of California, Berkeley, where he was a dissertation fellow at the Institute of International Studies under the direction of Colleen Lye and Judith Butler. In 2017-18, he was named Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Wellesley College.
At Princeton, Professor Nadal serves on the executive committee at the Effron Center for the Study of America and is an associate faculty at the Program in Media and Modernity. His courses include “Asian American literature,” “Global Novel,” and “World as Scale.” He also teaches a graduate seminar on Marxist literary theory, which introduces students to historical materialist methods for writing about the economic mediations of culture. He is a faculty advisor for the Scholars Institute Fellowship Program (SIFP), Princeton’s mentorship program for first-generation and low-income students.