Anel Pérez: At UNAM, the promotion of reading is based on the pleasure it provides

Anel Pérez, director of Literature and Reading Promotion at UNAM, comments in an interview that reading to grow is also part of the essence of the institution

Literature for pleasure and reading to grow are the essence at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) to promote the written word and orality, says Anel Pérez, who from the Directorate of Literature and Reading Promotion leads this work before a broad community that goes beyond campus, ages and borders.

In an interview, he points out: “This university believes in culture as comprehensive educational support, which does not refer, for example, to just being an engineer, but to having access to sports, an orchestra, dance or books in general.”

This is where the dissemination of the act of reading comes into play, whose main mission is achieved thanks to the creation of reading communities, whether they are grandparents who take the readings to their immediate surroundings or young students who do their social service learning to move with the works that like and satisfy the most diverse interests. “There are no individual acts of reading. When you are the founder of these reading communities or support them, you automatically have dissemination of books, of habits; we bet on that ”, he affirms.

This 2023, in the Directorate of Literature and Reading Promotion, begins on wheels by bicycle, with a cycle dedicated to writing related to this means of transport that became popular during the pandemic; Also, looking closely at insects from literary voices and science. It also offers the opportunity to learn more about Annie Ernaux, the recent French Nobel Prize winner for Literature, and to know what the literature of the self refers to.

“Our refuges from the world: books, the sea and solitude”, Anel Pérez spreads the words of Virginia Woolf on one more birthday of the writer. Social networks are one of the many tools of the historian by training, who is active in different fields, be it in the realms of the algorithm, with capsules on TvUNAM and in the planning of strategies from her offices, in a little-known area near the Universum Museum, where the conversation with this medium takes place.

The benefits of reading

The also academic in the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters in the highest house of studies “takes a semester” to explain the question she receives during the interview: “Why is the work of disseminating literature so important? What is the interest of governments and universities due to?

And he answers: “We continue to consider and verify, in some way, that reading creates criticism and different possibilities of thought, as well as a much more competent citizenry, not only in the workplace”, since scientific studies show that the breadth of the vocabulary helps to generate concepts, and these, different possibilities of thought.

Two fundamental programs stand out: the one for reading grandparents, which is now called Aquí Tú Cuentas Más 50, which has been very successful, as well as the one that helps students do their social service by reading and promoting reading. Both result in the formation of networks of readings. In addition, the bimonthly publication of Punto de partida and the Universo de letras blog, which encourage young people to start their interest in writing.

The activities are not only concerned with the university community on the city campuses and in secondary schools, which are the high schools and the Colleges of Sciences and Humanities, since migration is also a relevant issue, which is promoted at the campuses from UNAM abroad, such as in Chicago and Arizona. In addition, there are chairs such as the Carlos Fuentes and the José Emilio Pacheco, pillars from which the work headed by Anel Pérez is carried out.

“One of the most important aspects of promoting reading at the university involves looking at how it is read, because there are meeting points with science, the humanities and the arts.” He adds that another of the tasks is to focus on diversity, be it gender gender or linguistics, by making publications in native languages ​​or editing a book on Nigerian poetry.

“We are sure that reading generates feelings of empathy, and that is also proven, it is activated not only with literature, but with art. You cry for the other, you cry in a movie because it really moves you that they just died, you know they are acting, but you are feeling. The same happens with literature, music, opera or dance; that generates a different emotional education, indisputably. And the most immediate way is literature.”