English professor Michael Filas’s research and creative work focuses on a critique of technology, specifically as it relates to humanity and issues of post-evolution, cyborgism, and post-humanism. His works include “Biotene on the Soul” and “The Lyrica Cantos,” collage-inflected hybrids of creative non-fiction and fiction involving pharmaceutical culture as represented in television and Internet advertisements, medical seminars, and YouTube broadcasts by patients. His recent work, “Galileo’s Wake: A Memoir Collage,” was inspired by an opportunity to attend a conference about Galileo in Florence, Italy or more specifically, at the Florence University of the Arts (FUA).
Filas has been long working on forging a faculty exchange between Westfield State University and the Florence University of the Arts (FUA) because he wanted to, by his own creative non-fiction words, “teach writing, lecture and collaborate in Florence.” He learned about a conference at FUA from a supportive university administrator who told him the topic was Galileo and to write something about him.
“I struggled–my job is mostly about teaching, but I still make time to sustain a modest research career,” he writes in “Galileo’s Wake: A Memoir Collage,” “To make matters worse, my writing in the last several years has been an exploration of prose collage as a form of hybrid writing: part fiction, part creative non-fiction critique.”
“Galileo’s Wake: A Memoir Collage” is the resulting “hybrid memoir collage” that he presented at the FUA conference. The 4,013 words are experimental writing combining creative non-fiction about Galileo and Florence and memoir about Filas’s effort to teach and work in Florence.
“It puts contemporary scholarship and university teaching in the context of Renaissance giants and the way their stories resonate in modern times.”
In some ways, reading “Galileo’s Wake: A Memoir Collage” is like listening to jazz with its mix of ideas, mood, and techniques, both old and new. Drawing on Galileo’s own words and those of biographers and others, Filas injects his own personal desires and thoughts throughout the work. And like jazz, it is ever-evolving.
“I am now engaged in developing a short term international course for Florence, which will draw on the research I began for the paper,” says Filas.
In addition, “Galileo’s Wake: A Memoir Collage” not only afforded Filas four days in Florence at the FUA, it is under consideration for publication in Creative Nonfiction.
Professor Filas holds a B.A. in Business Administration, Long Beach State University; M.F.A.
in Creative Writing, Fiction, San Diego State University; Ph.D. in American Literature and Culture, University of Washington, Seattle.