August 29, 2006
For immediate release
René Agustín De los Santos of UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School led a seminar on rhetorical scholarship at the Institute of Philological Investigations (Instituto de Investigaciones Filológicas) of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in Mexico City on August 24. De los Santos is a doctoral candidate in Education with a concentration in Teaching and Learning, specializing in Language, Literacy, and Composition Studies. His participation was solicited by Prof. Gerardo Ramírez Vidal, with whom the Gevirtz School has created a working relationship that will benefit not only both institutions, but also the state of rhetorical scholarship in México and the United States for years to come.
De los Santos’s presentation helped inaugurate the third installment of an on-going endeavor entitled “Proyecto: La Tradición Retórica Hoy” (“Project: The Rhetorical Tradition Today”). His specific presentation, “La retórica organizacional como modelo de análisis” (“The rhetoric of organization as model of analysis”) – geared for both graduate students and faculty – focused on method and methodology and the contributions they hold for current rhetorical theory and praxis. The talk has its roots in De los Santos’ dissertation project, which in part argues that state institutions, such as a Ministry of Finance, are just as, and perhaps more, important towards the rebuilding of a nation’s day to day identity as folk-songs, murals, and other popular displays of nationality. An investigation into national institutional sites provides insight not only into the support mechanisms that help support extraordinary action, such as a declaration of war by Congress, but also the quotidian work activities of economists, lawyers, archivists, and ordinary citizens. How the nation is actualized over time can often tell us more about how a nation imagines itself than a focus primarily on solitary moments or particular situations.
The Institute of Philological Investigations, which is housed in the UNAM’s Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, has been conducting “Proyecto: La Tradición Retórica Hoy” to achieve three major goals. First, the Institute hopes to undertake a critical and analytical investigation of the Rhetorical Tradition, from its Greek and Roman origins to contemporary theories that deal with specific aspects of language use. Second, it plans to inculcate an appreciation of the foundations to which rhetoric grounds itself both as theory and praxis. Third, it hopes to understand the important yet insoluble relationship that rhetoric continues to have with the other important domains of human life (history, philosophy, law, literature, politics, etc.). To fulfill this mission, the Project has been holding seminars and conferences, as well as publishing materials on rhetoric in Spanish, and working towards the forging of scholarly networks outside the Mexican national context.
“International cooperation is becoming more a necessity, rather than a luxury, for rhetoric scholars,” De los Santos claims about his participation in the project. “We can no longer rely on insular, isolated research that takes into account a small portion of our world, context and histories. To speak of an ‘American’ rhetoric, for example, requires that we do not stop at political borders, but rather think in larger hemispheric terms, and the possibilities and conflicts that result when conceiving of such a rhetoric. I believe that only through international cooperation can we get a more nuanced sense of how we can act not only in our local spaces, but in our larger global contexts as well.”
“Rene´s contact with language educators and rhetoricians in contemporary Mexico pursues in an immediately practical way the same concern for the development of an educated populace to take on important leadership roles in the nation, industry, and intellectual life,” states De los Santos’s dissertation adviser Professor Charles Bazerman. “Contemporary Mexican scholars of rhetoric are currently recovering and analyzing the nation’s rhetorical history so as to educate more effectively the current generation in the use of language, writing, archives, documents, and communication technologies to advance the well-being of the nation. Rene’s work provides an important bridge between writing research in the U.S. and developments in Mexico, as evidenced by the interest shown in his work by Mexican scholars.”
[Interviews with René Agustín De los Santos are available; contact George Yatchisin at 805 893 5789.]