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PG4: Self, Family, Nation and Empire in Lusophone Culture


Image above: Romantic/ Indianist painting 'Iracema' by Brazilian artist José Maria de Medeiros (1881)


This paper is available for the academic year 2017-18.

This paper focuses on the literatures of Portugal, Brazil and Lusophone Africa and on Brazilian cinema in the context of political and historical determinants including patriarchy and sexual politics, imperialism, colonialism and dictatorship. The paper includes texts from the nineteenth century to the present day, from a variety of genres: novels, short stories, poetry and drama, as well as Brazilian film. Texts and authors are taught in the context of significant historical and political events in the periods and countries covered, including the dynamic between the sexes, the link between church/state, the interaction between the individual and the collective, and changing notions of citizenship within the context of debates involving, race, family, gender and nationality. Other themes will include Empire, populism, dictatorship, decolonization and the return to democracy.



  • Religion
  • Dictatorship
  • Identity, Self and Other
  • The Political Family


Authors and Directors [N.B. From 2017-18]

  • Portugal  
    • Teresa de Mello Breyner, Osmia
    • Machado de Assis, Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas​​
    • Machado de Assis,  Dom Casmurro​
    • Eça de Queirós, Os Maias​​
    • José Régio, Histórias de Mulheres​
    • José Régio, Benilde ou a Virgem Mãe
    • Maria Judite de Carvalho, Os Armários Vazios, ‘Tanta Gente, Mariana
    • Hélia Correia, O Rancor
    • Lygia Fagundes Telles, Selected short stories (from Antes do Baile Verde, Seminário dos Ratos, Os Melhores Contos de Lygia Fagundes Telles, Mistérios and other anthologies)
    • José Saramago, O Evangelho Segundo Jesus Cristo
  • Brazil
    • Aluísio Azevedo, O Cortiço (1890) and Lima Barreto, Triste fim de Policarpo Quaresma (1911)
    • Machado de Assis, Dom Casmurro (1899)
    • Tropicalism and the dictatorship – Selected poetry, music and film 
    • Terra estrangeira and Central do Brasil (directed by Walter Salles, 1996 and 1998)
    • Carolina de Jesus, Quarto de despejo (1960)
    • Hotel Atlântico, João Gilberto Noll (1989): available at the UL**
    • Eduardo Coutinho, Cabra Marcado para Morrer
    • Eduardo Coutinho, Peões
Preparatory reading: 


  • Teresa de Mello Breyner (Osmia): Bello Vázquez, Raquel, Mulher Nobre, Ilustrada, Dramaturga: Osmia de Teresa de Mello Breyner no Sistema Literário Português (1788-1795).
  • Eça de Queirós  (Os Maias; A Relíquia) Miné, Elza Ed.)150 Anos com Eça de Queirós. Anais do III Encontro Internacional de Queirosianos.
  • José Régio (Histórias de Mulheres; Benilde ou a Virgm Mãe): Galhoz, Maria Aliete,  Catorze Ensaios sobre José Régio seguidos de uma biobliografia essencial
  • Maria Judite de Carvalho (Os Armários Vazios; Tanta Gente, Mariana): Machado, Álvaro Manuel (ed.): ‘Maria Judite de Carvalho’ in Dicionário de Literatura Portuguesa.
  • José Saramago (O Evangelho Segundo Jesus Cristo): Klobucka, Anna (ed.), On Saramago: Special Issue of Portuguese Literary and Cultural Studies 6 (Spring 2001).
  • Hélia Correia (O Rancor): Sousa e Silva, Maria de Fátima (ed.), Furor. EnsaiosSobre a Obra Dramática de Hélia Correia. Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade de Hélia Correia


  • Coutinho, Eduardo (org). Guimarães Rosa, Col. Fortuna crítica, Rio de Janeiro, Civilização Brasileira, 1991
  • Dunn, Chris, Brutality Garden. Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001
  • Johnson Randal and Robert Stam, Eds. Brazilian Cinema. (NY: Columbia UP, 1996)
  • Sá, Lúcia, “Zola in Rio de Janeiro. The Production of Space in Aluisio de Azevedo’s O Cortiço in Portuguese Studies, Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 183-204.
  • Shaw, Lisa, “The Brazilian Chanchada and Hollywood Paradigms (1930-1959), Framework 44 (1), 2003: 70-83
  • Nagib, Lúcia, Brazil on Screen. London: IB Tauris, 2007
Teaching and learning: 

This paper will be taught in 24 lectures during the Michaelmas and Lent terms and fortnightly supervisions (with fortnightly essays) during all three terms.

Please see Pg.4's Moodle page.


Assessment will be by means of a three-hour exam comprising three essays inviting comparison between texts and/or films. Questions are selected from any of the four sections. Care should be taken to avoid repetition of material across questions.

This paper is also available for examination by Long Essay in Part IB.

Course Contacts: 
Dr Maite Conde (paper co-ordinator in Michaelmas 2018)
Prof Manucha Lisboa (paper co-ordinator in Lent and Easter 2019)