Latin American Studies | Brazil Beyond Paradise: An Introduction to Brazilian Culture & Society
L200 | 28067 | Castro
The goal of this course is to expose the students to different
aspects of Brazilian culture and society. Students will read and be
engaged in discussions about a broad range of topics drawn from
fictional and non-fictional readings, films, music, and popular
culture. The first part of the course (weeks 1-5) is a historical
overview of the different peoples who compose the Brazilian nation –
the Portuguese, the Indian, the African and the later immigrants.
The second part of the class (weeks 6-9) focus on issues dealing
with economic and power inequalities in Brazil. Greater focus will
be placed on one of the most underdeveloped area of the country,
the “sertão” (the backlands). The last part of the course (weeks 11-
15) focus on different cultural and religious manifestations and
their place in the construction of the Brazilian identity. Five full
length movies will be shown on Monday nights during the semester*.
Students who cannot attend the showings are expected to make
arrangements to view the movies on their own. Movie scenes will be
shown in class to illustrate some of the important points discussed
in the readings.
Instructor: Vânia Castro E-mail: email@example.com
Office: Ballantine Hall 807 Office phone: 855-5552
I. Class Readings
1. Main text: Joseph Page, The Brazilians. Da Cabo Press, 1995.
Selected readings available on Oncourse.
2. All additional readings available on Oncourse.
3. All movies are available at Wells Library
II. Grade Components
Midterm Exam. The exam will include recognition, identification, and
short answers. Midterm Exam is on Thursday, March 6. (15%)
Film Reviews: Each student will be expected to write a (2 page
double space) critical review for two of the films shown during the
semester. In the reviews students should make reference to specific
issues drawn from class discussions and class readings in order to
explain how these issues are portrayed in the movies. The first
review is due on February 14 and the second review is due on April
Research Paper: Students will write a final paper (6-8 pages long).
Paper topics will cover any aspect of Brazilian culture and society.
The topic will be chosen by the student and cleared with the
instructor beforehand. Research paper is due on Tuesday April 29 by
5:00 PM. (25%)
Oral Presentation: Students will give a 15-minute oral presentation
on their final paper research. At the end of each presentation the
classmates and the instructor will be able to ask questions and/or
contribute with comments. (15%)
Preparation and Participation: Besides attending classes, students
are expected to prepare the reading assignments and to contribute to
class discussion. (15%).
Evaluation Criteria for Class Participation
Outstanding = 90-100 (A)
•1 is well prepared for class, arriving with significant
mastery of the material.
•2 is enthusiastic about learning, and has a positive impact on
•3 participates actively in class, including volunteering to
answer questions, sharing ideas, and responding to classmates’ ideas.
Very good = 80-89 (B)
•1 is well prepared for class, and is often able to actively
use of the material.
•2 shows a positive attitude toward learning, and has a
positive impact on class atmosphere
•3 participates regularly in class, including some volunteering
and sharing of ideas, but more often just answering instructor’s
questions when called upon.
Satisfactory = 70-79 (C)
•1 is prepared for class, though sometimes not able to discuss
•2 is not indifferent toward class however does not impact
class atmosphere on a regular basis.
•3 shows more passive than active participation; sometimes
contributes to class discussions and is aware of what is going on.
Improvement Needed = 69 and below (D, F)
•1 is not well prepared for class, and often is not able to
apply new material
•2 shows a negative attitude toward learning; is disrespectful
to instructor or to classmates; talks out of turn or about unrelated
topics; has a negative impact on class atmosphere for any number of
•3 is a passive participant or a non-participant in class
discussions; is barely engaged and depends on others to carry the
NOTE: Frequent absences or late arrivals will obviously affect
Attendance: Students are expected to attend class meeting and movie
showings and to participate in discussions. Any absence represents a
valuable classroom experience lost which no written work can
replace. However, it is understood that certain circumstances
(illness, family emergencies, funerals, job interviews, etc.) may
prevent class attendance. Therefore, you will be allowed a total of
two (2) absences which do not count against your attendance grade.
These are not free days; they should be used wisely.
Students who miss no more than two days will be credited with the
full 10% allotted for attendance. However, any absences in excess of
those two, regardless of the reason, will result in a lowering of
the attendance grade. When the 10% allotted to attendance is "used
up" then the final course grade will be lowered by 1% for each
Note: Absences for the following reasons will not affect your
attendance grade and will not be applied towards your four allowed
absences: 1) mandatory participation in university-sponsored
activities, such as intercollegiate athletic competitions, artistic
performances, R.O.T.C. functions, academic field trips; 2)
participation in religious observances. Students missing class due
to a religious observance can find the officially-approved
accommodation form by going to the Dean of Faculties' website and
following the appropriate links
(http://www.indiana.edu/~deanfac/holidays.html). For any of the
above-mentioned activities, official documentation is required and
ideally it should be submitted to your instructor by the end of the
second week of the semester. (10%)
III. Grading Scale
A+ 97-100 / B+ 87-89 / C+ 77-
79 / D+ 67-69 / F 00-59
A 93-96 / B 83-86 / C 73-
76 / D 63-66
A- 90-92 / B- 80-82 / C- 70-
72 / D- 60-62
IV. Tentative calendar
Jan. 7-11 Unit 1: Introduction
• Reading: “Introducing Brazil” in The Brazilians
• Song: “Aquarela do Brasil” by Ary Barroso
Jan. 14-18 Unit 2: The Portuguese
• Reading: “The Portuguese” in The Brazilians
• In-class showing: O descobrimento do Brasil by Humberto Mauro
Unit 3: The African
• Reading: “The African” in The Brazilians
• Song: Gilberto Gil – “A mão da limpeza”
• In-class showing: Quilombo country by Leonard Abrams
Jan. 28 – Feb. 1 Unit 4: The Indian and the caboclo
• Reading: “The Indians” in The Brazilians
• Reading: Iracema, novel by José de Alencar (excerpt)
Feb. 4-8 Unit 5: The immigrants
• Reading :“The immigrants” in The Brazilians
• In-class showings: Gaijin by Tizuka Yamasaki, and O
quatrilho, by Fábio Barreto.
Unit 6: The Pyramid of Power in Brazil
• Reading: “The Have-Nots” in The Brazilians
• In-class showings: Bossa Nova,by Bruno Barreto and City of
God by Fernando Meirelles.
Feb. 14: Film Review due
Feb. 18-22 Unit 7: The sertão
• Reading: Vidas Secas (Barren Lives) by Graciliano Ramos
(excerpt) translation by Edward Dimmick
• In-class showing: Vidas Secas by Nelson Pereira dos Santos.
Feb. 25-29 • Reading: "Death and Life of a Severino" poem
by João Cabral de Mello Neto, translation by Elizabeth Bishop
• In-class showing: Morte e Vida Severina by Walter Avancini
Mar. 3-7 • In-class showings: Central do Brasil, Walter
Salles and Saudade do Futuro, by Joshua Tanzer
Midterm Exam – Thursday, March 6.
Week 10 Spring Break
Mar. 17-22 Unit 8: Spiritual Brazil
• Reading: “The Orixás” in The Brazilians
• In-class showing: O Pagador de Promessas by Anselmo Duarte
Unit 9: The Brazilian character
• Reading: “Malandragem e jeitinho: challenges to the
established order” in Dennison and Shaw.
• Song: Opera do Malandro by Chico Buarque de Hollanda
Mar.31 – Apr. 4
Unit 10: The Telenovela
• Reading: “The telenovela: a national obsession” in The
• Telenovelas (excerpts)
• In-class showing: A negação do Brasil (Denying Brazil) by
Joel Zito Araújo
April 3: Film Review Due
Apr. 7-11 Unit 11: The “Carnaval”
• Reading: “In the land of Carnaval” in The Brazilians
• In-class showing: Samba: on your feet. Written by Juan
Trasmonte; produced and directed by Eduardo Montes-Bradley.
Apr. 14-18 Unit 12: Soccer
• Reading: Soccer madness in The Brazilians
• In-class showing: Barbosa by Jorge Furtado
Apr. 21-26 Students presentations
Apr. 28- May 2 Final Paper Due on Tuesday April 29 by 5:00 PM.
* Movie Showings. Room TBA
• January 21 : Quilombo by Carlos Diegues
• January 28: Iracema: uma transa amazônica by Jorge
Senna and Wolf Gauer
• March 17: A hora da estrela by Suzana Amaral
• March 24: Opera do malandro by Ruy Guerra
• April 7: Orfeu Negro by Marcel Camus