The University of Southampton

PORT2001 Culture and Society in Portugal and Brazil

Module Overview

The first half of the course focuses on Brazil, and examines how major social, political and cultural developments in the second half of the twentieth century were debated in the country’s erudite and popular cultural expression. At the heart of all the Brazilian material examined is the debate of the effects of modernisation, and the contradictions and imbalances it has produced. The second half of the course focuses on Portugal, with the Revolution of April 25th 1974 as the main focal point. We begin by considering living conditions, politics and art under the Salazar regime, and will examine how artists attempted to express dissent. We will also look at Portugal after the Revolution, sketching out the changes that occurred in all areas of social, political and cultural activities.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide students with a framework for research into major social, political and cultural developments in Brazil and Portugal during the second half of the twentieth century; ? To examine critically the relationship between artistic production, cultural expression and cultural practice in Brazil and Portugal and its historical context; ? To encourage students to develop their own analyses of the social, political and cultural development of Brazil and Portugal during the 50 year period covered; ? To develop students’ research skills as part of the preparation for the investigative project during residence abroad next year.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The main social and political developments in Brazil and Portugal in the second half of the twentieth century;
  • The relationship between political and social developments and cultural production in Brazil and Portugal;
  • Techniques for analysing a variety of cultural expressions.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Select and organise relevant material for the construction of a coherent argument;
  • Conduct critical analysis of different forms of cultural expression;
  • Carry out independent research, which will prepare you for the research required for the investigative project next year.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate the different perspectives offered by studies of the history of the period covered by the course;
  • Assess the different interpretations of the cultural expressions studied;
  • Appreciate the need to situate cultural representations in a specific historical context.


This module examines a wide range of cultural expressions produced in Brazil and Portugal in the second half of the twentieth century. They are studied within their historical context in order to understand the complex relationship they have with the social, political and cultural issues that had greatest impact in Brazil and Portugal during the period in question. Among the issues relating to Brazil discussed are; the relationship between the rural and the urban; rapid urbanisation; resistance to military dictatorship in the 1960s and 70s; the social costs of economic modernisation and the resulting social tensions. With regard to Portugal, we will discuss the ideology of the Salazar dictatorship; the struggle for democracy; the impact of the 1974 Revolution; and Portugal’s changing relationships with its former African colonies and its European neighbours in the 1980s and 90s. The cultural expressions studied from both nations also reveal different attempts to rethink the question of national cultural identity, thus preparing students for the final year Portuguese studies module (PORT 3001), which explores issues of cultural identity in greater detail.

Special Features

The lectures will raise key issues for understanding the political and social development Brazil and Portugal during the past 50 years, and introduce the various texts to be studied and suggest approaches for analysing them. Seminar presentations and group discussion provide the opportunity to develop your own interpretations of both the salient aspects of the history studied and the cultural expressions covered, and they will also help you to prepare for the essays. The essays require you to carry out your own research and apply your analytical skills to the question set. In particular, those questions will require you to give careful consideration to the relationship between text and historical context.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: ? Lectures ? Seminar presentations ? Group discussions Learning activities include: ? Independent research ? Seminar presentations ? Group discussion ? Essay writing

Wider reading or practice50
Follow-up work12
Preparation for scheduled sessions50
Completion of assessment task14
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Gallagher, Tom. Portugal: a Twentieth-Century Interpretation. 

Birmingham, David. A Concise History of Portugal. 

Fausto, Boris. A Concise History of Brazil. 

Levine, Robert M. The History of Brazil. 

J. Vincent. Culture and Customs of Brazil. 

Robinson, Richard. Contemporary Portugal. 

Summ, G. Harvey. Brazilian Mosaic: Portraits of a Diverse People and Culture. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback ? Participation in group discussion ? Preparation for seminar presentation and essay.


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 45%
Essay 45%
Seminar presentation 10%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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