Friday, April 16, 2010
1644 SSWB (International Institute)
José Luiz Passos is Associate Professor of Luso-Brazilian literatures and cultures at UCLA, where he is Vice Chair for Graduate Studies in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and Director of the Center for Brazilian Studies at the UCLA International Institute. He is the author of Ruínas de linhas puras (Annablume, 1998) and Machado de Assis, o romance com pessoas (University of São Paulo Press, 2007) . In 2008 his play "Carmelo's War," on border conflict and family ties after Othello and Rebellion in the Backlands, received a staged reading at the 32nd Comparative Drama Conference in Los Angeles. In February 2009 Alfaguara issued his first novel, Nosso grão mais fino. He is currently writing a book on visiting and travel narratives about Brazil as a dystopian social landscape.Brazilian novels are often described as stylized scripts about the identity of Brazil or that of its different and ever-changing parts. It was only a hundred years after Brazil's political independence (1822) that Modernism brought to the novel a more diverse lexicon as well as an ironic take on the colonial legacy. Following the 1930 Revolution, writers often grouped together under the loose rubric of Regionalism, depicted socioeconomic hubs characteristic of Brazil's intraregional disparities, such as sugarcane and cocoa plantation clans, migration waves from the backlands, social banditism, gaucho sagas, and rubber extraction in the Amazon. The depiction of these economic cycles and communities resulted in works whose style and vernacular rendered what has then become a long-standing paradigm for the Brazilian novel. This talk examines the challenges writers face when they try to overcome the divide between the country and the city and engage creatively the burden of locale and the sense of a supposedly failed modernity.