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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 2022-23. 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. 

Unwriting Empire: Re-examining Early Modern Portuguese Literature (Michaelmas Term)

Convenor: Dr Simon Park 

Drawing on a range of texts written in or about regions in present-day Brazil, India, Mozambique, China, and Japan, and across a variety of genres, this course will consider what imaginative writing from the early modern period has to offer decolonial histories. We will examine how writers attempted to come to terms with cultural and racial difference, what literature adds to our understanding of notions of difference, and how tales of disaster might provide the grounds for what Ariella Aïsha Azoulay calls ‘potential histories’, where ‘different options that were once eliminated are reactivated as a way of slowing the imperial movement of progress’. Writers will include Gil Vicente, Francisco de Sá de Miranda, Fernão Mendes Pinto, Pêro Vaz Caminha, Luís Fróis, as well as anonymous authors who wrote plays and shipwreck stories.



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.

The Colonial and Postcolonial Literature of Portuguese-Speaking Africa (Michaelmas 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.

Contemporary Brazilian Fiction (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.