Scholarship supports poetry graduate student

Ian C. Williams learns about tourism and rhetoric

Ian C. Williams received a Doel Reed Center for the Arts scholarship and participated in the “Tourism & Taos: Rhetorical Invention” class last summer. One of the benefits of that class is a hallmark of the college experience: developing intellectual curiosity and dealing with controversial subjects such as differing views of historic figures. He wrote the following to thank everyone who made his participation in this course possible, and agreed to let us share it as a reminder of the opportunities the Reed Center creates for dozens of students each year.

Ian C. Williams Ian C. Williams says he learned a lot during his time at the Doel Reed Center for the Arts.

First of all, I would like to extend my deepest, sincerest thanks for providing the opportunity to visit Taos and learn about the local culture, critically examining tourism and tourism rhetorics, and applying this wealth of new knowledge and understanding to my own practice as a poet. I have been pursuing a master of fine arts in poetry at OSU for just over a year, and since attending the school, I have grown so much as a writer, a scholar and a human being. When I was working on my undergraduate degree, I was never able to afford a travel-based course, despite always wanting to. When I heard that OSU had strong connections and provided the opportunity to study in Taos, I was excited. Your help has made it possible for me to have this experience. From the deepest recesses of my heart, I am eternally grateful for your generosity, support and belief in education.

I attended Dr. Ron Brooks’ “Tourism & Taos: Rhetorical Invention” course. Since I was accepted into graduate school, I have developed a strong interest in composition and rhetoric, and intend to study them further in my career alongside poetry. I have found these two interests complement each other, and this course has certainly strengthened their relationship. We were asked to “look past the periphery” of tourism locations, which is a skill essential to poetry’s craft. This course definitely increased my understanding of this skill, and I think about poetry differently now.

Beautiful landscapes The area’s beautiful views are another benefit of a student experience in Taos.

This idea of looking past the periphery focuses the most around monuments and museums, especially how these locations promote specific historical narratives and suppress others. One narrative that stands out surrounds the figure of Juan de Oñate, a Spanish conquistador who massacred indigenous tribes in the Taos region. As a display of his power, after the massacre, Oñate ordered all the indigenous men over the age of 25 to have a foot severed. Oñate was later banished for his war crimes. Despite these heinous crimes, there are multiple monuments honoring Oñate as a hero, warrior and adventurer. One of these statues stands outside of Taos, and another stands outside the El Paso (Texas) International Airport. I am so interested in how this man is elevated as a hero, despite being convicted of war crimes. I think it’s important to examine these narratives and counter narratives, because it forces us to identify the power struggles and stakeholders in countless social and political issues.

During the two weeks I spent in Taos, I learned so much and developed valuable relationships with mentors and peers. I want to reiterate how thankful I am for your generosity and support—I could not have gone on this trip, had these experiences and developed these skills without the scholarship I received. I will never forget any of it.

If you are interested in making a gift to support scholarships at the Doel Reed Center for the Arts, contact Deb Engle at or (405) 385-5600.