Portuguese MSt/MPhil Programme

The Special Subjects listed below are offered as permanent options for the MSt and MPhil.  Candidates are encouraged to discuss individually tailored options with the appropriate member of staff. 

N.B. Candidates wishing to specialise in Portuguese Linguistics should apply for the MSt or MPhil in General Linguistics and Comparative Philology.

These are the Special Subject options available in 2020-21. These are indicative of the course offerings for the sub-faculty, so applicants should note that not all options will run in all years, and some course content might change. 


Please note that there is no reading list for either Renaissance course – texts will be agreed with students depending on prior experience of studying the period. The courses are open to those who have read no early modern Portuguese literature, as well as those who have studied it. 

The World on Stage: Drama in the Sixteenth Century (Michaelmas Term)

Convenor: Dr Simon Park 

Gil Vicente is the major dramatic author of the sixteenth century and the course will examine his work in detail, trying to get behind the cliches of Vicentine criticism to issues such as stagecraft and staging which have barely been touched on in the past. It will take in the amazing social, national and racial variegation of his characters, exploring Vicente’s facility with language to mock and moralise. The course will also explore the almost unknown neoclassical prose comedies of two major authors, Sá de Miranda and António Ferreira, and there will be the chance for the adventurous to tackle plays with almost no critical fortune that have been made available to readers by recent editorial projects to encourage reading beyond the canon. 

Sex, God, Money: Lyric Poetry in the Sixteenth Century (Michaelmas Term) 

Convenor: Dr Simon Park

The lyric corpus of the sixteenth century is vast and ranges from the sublimity of devotional verse, through heady Platonic love poetry, right down to short poems tossed around in the court to beg for favour, spread gossip, or mock courtly friends (and enemies). Thanks to recent work that goes beyond the canon, it is now possible to explore this richness in all its variety, considering writers such as Diogo Bernardes or André Falcão de Resende who were renowned in their time, but have since been largely forgotten by a nationalist turn in literary history that sought to make Camões the sole Prince of Portuguese Poets. There will be the chance to examine the making of Camões’s legacy alongside a consideration of his sixteenth-century friends and rivals. We will certainly place this poetry in its historical context, but the course will also allow students to read this poetry through modern theoretical lenses from gender, queer, and postcolonial studies. 


Modern Literature

Lusophone Women Writers (Hilary Term)
Convenor: Professor Cláudia Pazos Alonso

This course takes as its starting-point the well-documented isolation and marginality of women writers in both Portugal and Brazil in the first half of the 20th century, before moving on to consider the growing impact of new generations of female writers, from the 1950s onwards and more especially after the return to democracy in both countries. It examines the differing strategies deployed by female-authored texts as they negotiate the minefield of genre and gender, and issues surrounding critical reception. Students will have the opportunity to study major canonical writers from a selection which ranges from Florbela Espanca through to Lídia Jorge, taking in the writings of Clarice Lispector, but also, if they so wish, some of the lesser known writers.

Race, Gender, and Nation across Nineteenth-century Portuguese-speaking Contexts (Michaelmas Term, Hilary Term)
Convenor: Professor
Cláudia Pazos Alonso

This module will examine critically a range of nineteenth-century prose texts and involve a comparative study of writing from different locations of the Portuguese empire (i.e. Cape Verde and Goa) as well as Brazil and Portugal. Its exploration of representations of slavery, race, gender, domestic life, and empire will engage with the (pre- and post-abolition) historical debates during which such texts were produced and disseminated. The module will also consider the impact of broader trends within the literary culture of the period, from the consumption of serialized fiction via the periodical press to the wider circulation of ideas across continents.

Authors may include a selection of the following: José Evaristo de Almeida (Cape Verde); Francisco Luís Gomes (Goa); Ana Placido, Camilo Castelo Branco and Eca de Queiros (Portugal); Maria Firmina dos Reis, Bernardo Guimaraes, Aluísio de Azevedo, Adolfo Caminha, Machado de Assis and Júlia Lopes de Almeida (Brazil).

The Colonial and Postcolonial Literature of Portuguese-Speaking Africa (Michaelmas Term, Hilary Term)
Convenor: Professor Phillip Rothwell

This course will engage with representative texts from Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde. It will examine a selection of authors from different geographical settings for their portrayal of colonial experiences and post-colonial legacies. A first aim of the course will be to investigate the ongoing reflection about issues surrounding national identity, over a period of several decades. A second aim will be to consider how and why African authors incorporate distinctive African dimensions into their work, while simultaneously strategically engaging with and appropriating European literary traditions, be it at the level of themes, form or language.

National Identity and Society in Brazilian Film (Michaelmas Term, Hilary Term)
Convenor: Professor Claire Williams 

This course will concentrate on representations of Brazilian national identity and society in Brazilian cinema since the groundbreaking movement of Cinema Novo in the 1950s. The course will examine the work of some of Brazil’s key film-makers. Given the interdisciplinary approach of this course, the critical analysis of a selection of films will draw on the theoretical frameworks developed by Brazilian social scientists (such as Gilberto Freyre, Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda, Roberto da Matta), as well as film critics and directors (Glauber Rocha’s formulations on an Aesthestics of Hunger being a case in point. The issues covered in the course will include National Identity; Subalternity and Representation; Dictatorship and Democracy; The City and Rural Spaces; Underdevelopment and Modernity; Violence and Segregation. 

Contemporary Brazilian Fiction (Michaelmas Term, Hilary Term)
Convenor: Professor Claire Williams

This course will allow you to explore current trends and new voices in recent Brazilian prose fiction, focusing on how it engages with the country’s post-dictatorship experience and with pressing social questions, such as urban violence and poverty, which affect Brazilian society today. You will study established contemporary writers such as João Gilberto Noll, Milton Hatoum, Bernardo Carvalho, Luiz Ruffatto and Adriana Lisboa. In addition, the course will survey the output originating from traditionally marginalized sections of Brazilian society, the inhabitants of the favelas being a case in point.

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