Foreigners in the homeland
Mario Santana is a Spanish academic currently serving the University of Chicago as an associate professor in the Department of Languages and deputy dean for Languages. He formerly served as the associate dean of the Division of the Humanities and Associate Dean of the College during his tenure as Master.
Santana's research centers around contemporary Spanish literature, including Catalan, Basque and Galician. At the University of Chicago, the study abroad to Barcelona was established 1996. He received a 2002 Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching for his role in developing Reading in World Literature, a part of the University of Chicago's Humanities Core Sequence.
In the College, Santana looks to continue to develop the university's international offerings, as well as those in music, drama, visual arts and creative writing.
"It's very easy to teach [at the University of Chicago] because the students are so good, they all have questions, and they all have things to say," describes Santana about his teaching experiences. "The hardest thing in humanities is to teach how to be critical about what you read. We can all gather information and write a nice paper, but to present an original point of view is not just a collection of other people's ideas; you need to be able to point out others' weaknesses and strengths and integrate them into an argument of your own." Santana further references the critically acclaimed Craft of Research to support and guide his argument, as he places an emphasis on careful reading of texts. "Two novels can talk about the same things very differently--it's the way they talk that can make them interesting to us."
Santana analyzes and criticizes questions of national literature in "Foreigners in the Homeland: The Spanish American New Novel in Spain 1962–1974," discussing issues such as if literature written in Catalan would be considered Spanish literature, as well as the boom of authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa during the 1960s and '70s.