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The University of Southampton

PORT3006 Encounters with Bodies in Lusophone Cultural Narrative

Module Overview

Based on literary texts, films and visual materials from and about Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique, this course is intended to reflect the cutting edge of Lusophone cultural production and Lusophone Studies research, while remaining anchored in the essential themes and trends of the twentieth- and twenty-first century Portuguese-speaking world. To this end, the course takes one thematic mainstay of the Lusophone world during the last century — the body — and uses it as a unifying motif and point of departure for study of a diverse and comprehensive number of themes, detailed below. Alongside the set primary texts for the course, during lectures students will be introduced to a range of basic critical theory frameworks. Applications and evaluations of these frameworks will provide the basis for seminars, and for assessed student blog posts. This aspect of the course will allow students to productively cross-pollinate with other final-year courses and to locate the module within wider global frameworks, as well as offering them introductory starting points for potential future study. All written texts are available in English translation, and all films are available with English subtitles, allowing students with little or no prior knowledge of Portuguese language or Lusophone cultural studies to engage with the programme.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Possess an in-depth, specialised knowledge of key cultural events and trends in Portugal, Brazil, and Lusophone Africa
  • Be fully equipped to apply their knowledge of the Lusophone world to a professional and/or higher-level academic context.
  • Display highly refined skills in analysing cultural artefacts, including written texts, films, and visual materials, reflected in sophisticated and insightful academic writing
  • Demonstrate confidence and skill when engaging in discussion and debate of the course’s key issues
  • Be capable of applying a range of high-level theoretical frameworks to cultural artefacts
  • Have a highly developed understanding of the relevance of gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, sexuality, hybridity, memory, trauma, violence and death to the cultures, societies and politics of the Lusophone world
  • Show confidence engaging with academic books and articles on Lusophone cultures and theoretical frameworks more broadly
  • Understand key elements of successfully writing for a lay audience
  • Understand the relevance of the Lusophone world to wider global trends and frameworks, and be able to extrapolate knowledge of the Lusophone world to those frameworks
  • Have developed strong reading skills in Portuguese, if relevant to their degree programme


Overarching themes will include a selection of the following: • Volatile bodies • Bodies in pain • Grotesque bodies • The aesthetics of poverty • Traumatised bodies • Rebellious bodies • Working bodies • (Post)colonial bodies • Queer bodies Cultural trends and movements will include a selection of the following: • Portuguese Modernism • War photography • Brazilian Postmodernism • Portuguese auteur cinema • Ethnofiction • Brazilian neorealism • Post-dictatorship cultural production • African post-independence literature and cinema • Contemporary documentary film Theoretical frameworks will include a selection of the following: • Psychoanalysis • Poststructuralism • Gender and racial performativity • Critical race and Black Atlantic theory • Postcoloniality and the postcolonial exotic • Biopolitics, necropolitics and thanatopolitics • Pain and torture theory • Abjection and the grotesque • Queer theory • Theories of atrocity and the image • Traumatic memory • Postcolonial, Black and African feminisms • Embodied death theory

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and seminars

Preparation for scheduled sessions50
Completion of assessment task40
Wider reading or practice38
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Fausto, Boris (2014). A Concise History of Brazil. 

Arenas, Fernando (2011). Lusophone Africa: Beyond Independence. 

Kristeva, Julia (1982). Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, trans. by Leon S. Roudiez. 

Santos, Boaventura de Sousa (2002). Between Prospero and Caliban: Colonialism, Postcolonialism, and Inter-identity. Luso-Brazilian Review. ,39 .

hooks, bell (1981). Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism. 

Patterson, Orlando (1982). Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study. 

Foucault, Michel (1977). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. by Alan Sheridan. 

Possible set texts (for indication only). António Lobo Antunes, Os Cus de Judas / South of Nowhere (novel, Portugal, 1979) Paulina Chiziane, Niketche / The First Wife (novel, Mozambique, 2002) Pedro Costa (dir.), Casa de Lava / Down to Earth (feature film, Portugal and Cape Verde, 1995) Flora Gomes (dir.), Nha Fala / My Voice (musical film, Guinea-Bissau, 2002) Ungulani Ba Ka Khosa, Ualalapi (novella, Mozambique, 1987) Adriana Lisboa, Sinfonia em Branco / Symphony in White (novel, Brazil, 2001) Clarice Lispector, Laços de Família / Family Ties (short stories, Brazil, 1960) Gabriel Mascaro (dir.), Doméstica / Maid (documentary film, Brazil, 2012) Mário de Sá-Carneiro, A Confissão de Lúcio / Lúcio’s Confession (novella, Portugal, 1915)

Butler, Judith (1993). Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex”. 

Birmingham, David (2003). A Concise History of Portugal. 

Scarry, Elaine (1985). The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. 

Batchen, Geoffrey (2012). Picturing Atrocity: Photography in Crisis. 

Mbembe, Achille (2003). ‘Necropolitics’, trans. by Libby Meintjes, Public Culture. ,15 , pp. 11-40.

Sontag, Susan (1990). On Photography. 

Atencio, Rebecca J. (2014). Memory’s Turn: Reckoning with Dictatorship in Brazil. 

Muñoz, José Esteban (1999). Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. 

Gilroy, Paul (1993). The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Blog Post  (1500 words) 30%
Discussion 20%
Essay  (3000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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