The course will be conducted in English and knowledge of Portuguese or prior knowledge of Brazil is not required. However, most of the films are in Portuguese with subtitles and students are free to write as well as to listen in Portuguese. We may also establish additional activities for those wanting to do more work in the language.
This course will look at key moments in Brazilian history, politics, and culture with an eye to some of the ways that Brazil has changed—and not changed—over time. We will be using films as a way in to a number of key themes. The great majority of films are from the 1980s through the present and many are either documentaries or have a documentary element within their fictional framework. The idea is to obtain an overview of Brazil—its problems and its ongoing creativity and resilience, through the films and through a number of key literary and critical texts along with Internet interviews with directors.
The films range from well-known works such as Central Station (Central do Brasil) and Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite) to films less familiar in the U.S. such as Kleber Rocha Filho’s Neighboring Sounds (O Som ao Redor) and Aquarius. Texts include excerpts from Teresa Caldeira (City of Walls), Carolina Maria de Jesus (Quarto de Despejo) and Davi Kopenawa (The Falling Sky). Students will view all films outside of class time (links are provided and many of the films are also available on Netflix) and will work in small groups to select key clips and introduce films for discussion.