2 talks by Otto Santa Ana (UCLA), Antwerp University and University of Leiden, 11-12 May

***with apologies for cross-postings***

Dear all,

Our colleague Tom van Hout, from the University of Leiden, has asked us to share this invitation to two talks by Otto Santa Ana (UCLA) next week. You will find Tom’s message below, along with all the details on the two talks.

All the best,

Your ACDC Convenors

Dear colleagues,

I’ve just had the pleasure of meeting Bertie and Nicolina and would like invite members of the ACDC community to two talks by Otto Santa Ana (UCLA) on the 12th of May in Leiden. The first is a topical talk about the media representation of immigration (“The Cowboy and the Goddess)”. The second talk is about his forthcoming book and deals with humor as a rhetorical mechanism. Let me know if you would like to attend either or both.

Best wishes,
Tom Van Hout
University of Antwerp & Leiden University

First talk: “The Cowboy and the Goddess: Television News Mythmaking about Immigrants”, Prof. Otto Santa Ana, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

Date, time, place: 11 May 2016, University of Antwerp, Stadscampus, B.003 – Prinsstraat 13 – 2000 Antwerp, 12:30-14:00


The lecture presents an empirical examination of contemporary US network television news stories about immigrants that is informed by myth and film genre scholarship. A review of a full year of network news programs – ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN evening news reporting about unauthorized immigrants crossing the US border – determined that two age-old story-types constituted the base narrative of all the news reports regarding immigrant voyages and apprehensions. One ancient story-type, currently manifested as the American Western, occurs when the news story protagonist border patrol agent portrays the American cowboy archetype. A US foundational myth is based on this story-type. The second story-type derives from a journey myth of Inanna, a Sumerian goddess. These two millennia-old story-types accounted for all the network evening news stories immigrant reports. Western news stories rearticulate nationalism, while the Inanna news story contests the nation’s foundational myth. Thus, on this topic, journalists write about immigration to entertain and indoctrinate, as much as to edify. At the same time, US news viewers are entertained by epic narrative myths – as much as they are edified – are set to consume television news stories in which they recognize the characters and resolutions of stories that reaffirm cultural values.

Second talk: “Toward Consilience in our Accounting of Human Laughter and Humor”

Date, place, time: 12 May 2016, Lipsius Building, Cleveringaplaats 1, 2311 BD Leiden, room 147, 16:00-17:00


I offer a model for laughter and humor that is based in rhetoric, not language. First, I argue that the rhetorical contrivances that we use in humor today have their source in a few cognitive processes that made animal play possible. I claim hominoids have always built social interaction using these cognitive processes. I also argue that we have built the rhetorical devices for humor that we use today with these processes, whether language is involved or not. Then, I deploy Habermas’ Universal Pragmatics to establish separate but phylogenetically-successive pragmatic settings: ‘playing together’, ‘laughing together’, and conversing. Universal Pragmatics, then, may be prerequisite to Grice’s Cooperative Principle. When linked to social psychological and pragmatic models of performing perlocutionary power this model may describe the actual execution of social power in communication.


Otto Santa Ana (Ph.D University of Pennsylvania; M.A. & B.A. University of Arizona) is currently Professor at the César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). His scholarship over the past 15 years focuses on language that constructs social hierarchies and on how mass media amplifies the construction of unjust social inequity. He is widely recognized for his contribution to the research on mass media representations of Latinos in the US context. His book Brown Tide Rising (University of Texas Press, 2002), focusing on newspaper analysis, was named The American Political Science Association Book of the Year on Ethnic and Racial Political Ideology. His more recent and widely acclaimed book-length works include Juan in a Hundred: The Representation of Latinos on Network News (University of Texas Press, 2013) as well as Arizona Firestorm: Global Immigration Realities, National Media, and Provincial Politics (Coedited with Celeste González de Bustamante, Rowman & Littlefield, 2012).

Further info: http://www.chavez.ucla.edu/content/otto-santa-ana
Background paper: http://das.sagepub.com/content/27/1/95

Tom Van Hout| PhD | Assistant Professor | Academic Director
Institute of Professional and Academic Communication | University of Antwerp
Department of Journalism and New Media | Leiden University
tom.vanhout@uantwerp.be | office: +32 3 265 4204


Member of the COST Action – ‘New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe: Opportunities and Challenges’ http://www.cost.eu/domains_actions/isch/Actions/IS1306

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