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Unit information: Images of Power in Lusophone Culture in 2017/18

Unit name Images of Power in Lusophone Culture
Unit code HISP20092
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. King
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This Unit offers an introduction to the study of visual culture in the context of the Lusophone world, focusing on the connections between power and cinematic and photographic images. Through close analysis of a range of films and photography, balancing theoretical frameworks with a consideration of historical and political contexts, students will be encouraged to think about the politics of image making. What is an image? How do images reinforce or contest hierarchies of power? Among the themes and topics covered by the unit are: tropicalismo and hybrid aesthetics in Brazilian Cinema Novo; images of technology and nature in modernist photography of the 1950s and 1960s; and transformations in political documentary making from 1960s to the present.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will have:

  1. developed a good understanding of the politics of image making in the context of Lusophone culture (with a particular focus on Brazil).
  2. developed a sophisticated critical vocabulary specific to the study of photography and cinema while further expanding their knowledge of Lusophone culture and politics.
  3. developed ability to carry out an analysis of cultural texts that draws on fairly complex theoretical frameworks while demonstrating the significance of political and social specificities.
  4. developed an ability to construct and defend an analytical argument, both orally and in writing.
  5. demonstrated an ability to describe, analyse and evaluate both primary (fictional) and secondary (critical) texts, appropriate to level I.
  6. developed an ability to both write critically and communicate complex ideas and analysis orally, and demonstrated independence both in the effective use of library and computer resources and in the development of seminar presentations.

Teaching details

2 contact hours weekly, consisting of informal lectures and seminars and including presentations and discussions.

Assessment Details

1 x 2000 word essay (50%) testing ILO’s 1-6.

1 x 2 hour exam (50%) testing ILO’s 1-6.

Reading and References

Deus e o diabo na terra do sol (1964), directed by Glauber Rocha

Cabra marcado para morrer (1985), directed by Eduardo Coutinho

Mário de Andrade, O turista aprendiz (Belo Horizonte: Itatiaia, 2002)

Ludger Derenthal and Samuel Titan Jr (eds.) Modernidades fotográficas 1940-1964: José Medeiros, Thomaz Farkas, Marcel Gautherot, and Hans Gunter Flieg (Rio de Janeiro: Instituto Moreira Salles, 2014)

Ismail Xavier, Allegories of Underdevelopment: Aesthetics and Politics in Modern Brazilian Cinema (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1997)

Beatriz Jaguaribe and Maurício Lissovsky, “The Visible and the Invisibles: Photography and Social Imaginaries in Brazil,” Public Culture 21:1 (2009), 175-209

[Texts may change from year to year]