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Jill Robbins, Chair 150 W 21st Street, Stop B3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4936

Spring 2004


Unique Days Time Location Instructor
42670 MWF
9:00 AM-10:00 AM
Parlin 8C

Course Description

Our main goal in this course is to analyze the emergence of testimonial literature in the Brazilian scenario of Political Opening or Abertura (the 1980s) and its institutionalization as a discourse spoken or written by subaltern subjects: shanty-town dwellers, maids, prisoners, homeless adolescents, prostitutes. The attempt to represent subalternity in Brazil (esp. economic poverty) has characterized some fertile moments in the literature of that country, and therefore it is also a purpose in this course to examine several major fiction writings of the poor. Some topics of discussion include: the history of testimonio as a genre, its context of production and circulation in Brazil, as well as in other Hispanic countries; the intellectuals’ role as mediators (the uneducated/the literate; orality/writing; exclusion/inclusion) as opposed to old forms of political engagement; gender-related themes within the field of testimonio studies. By way of analyzing a variety of Brazilian testimonial texts, and some major fictions of poverty as well, we aim at addressing a number of pivotal issues in Latin American criticism: the gap between writers/intellectuals and the working classes, literature and politics, literature and its dilemmas of representation, literature and ethics.

Grading Policy

Your grade will be based on: active class participation, including exercises such as leading class discussion (30%); one oral report of the final paper proposal (30%); a final research paper (40%).


Aluísio Azevedo. O cortiço. 13 ed. São Paulo: Ática, 1983. Graciliano Ramos. Vidas Secas. 59 ed. Rio de Janeiro: Record, 1989. João Guimarães Rosa. Primeiras estórias. 15 ed. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 2001. Clarice Lispector. A hora da estrela. Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 1998.


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