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Unit information: Urban Narratives in the Lusophone World in 2015/16

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Unit name Urban Narratives in the Lusophone World
Unit code HISP20091
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

Description including Unit Aims

This unit offers an in-depth investigation of the representation of the city in contemporary fictional narratives from Brazil. Through close analysis of a number of novels, short stories and films produced in the decades during and following the military regime of 1964-1985, students will be encouraged to view the city as a space upon which narratives of modernity and national identity are imposed, reproduced and contested. The discussion of these texts will centre on a range of debates and issues, from the representation of violence, race and marginality, to shifting conceptions of national and transnational identities. Analysis of the fiction of Rubem Fonseca will focus on the use of tropes borrowed from the detective genre to map networks of power in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Discussion of the work of João Gilberto Noll will centre on how his novels explore the fissures and gaps within the global city.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will have:

  1. developed a good understanding of a range of debates surrounding the representation of urban space in the Lusophone world.
  2. developed an awareness of how the city functions as a screen on which anxieties concerning modernity, violence, race and marginality are played out.
  3. developed an understanding of how wider cultural discourses play out in individual fictional texts and how cultural texts can function as vehicles for intervening into wider political debates.
  4. understood and learned to deploy relevant critical concepts and terminology, appropriate to Level I
  5. demonstrated an ability to describe, analyse and evaluate both primary (fictional) and secondary (critical) texts.
  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 Information

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

Assessment Information

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

Pixote (1981), directed by Héctor Babenco

Agosto (1990) by Rubem Fonseca

O som ao redor (2012), directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho

Lorde (2004) by João Gilberto Noll

Otsuka, Edu Teruki. Marcas da catástrofe: Experiência urbana e indústria cultural en Rubem Fonseca, João Gilberto Noll, e Chico Buarque (São Paulo: Nankin Editorial, 2001)
Süssekind, Flora (2002) ‘Deterritorialization and Literary Form: Brazilian

Contemporary Literature and Urban Experience,’ University of Oxford Centre for Brazilian Studies, Working Papers Series

[Texts may change from year to year]