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2013 Global Seminar


History, Culture, and Urban Life: Rio de Janeiro and the Imaginary of Brazil


“History, Culture, and Urban Life: Rio de Janeiro and the Imaginary of Brazil” will be taught at  Pontificia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro from June 10 to July 19, 2013. The course is led by Bruno M. Carvalho, assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese languages and cultures.

Rio de Janeiro served as Brazil’s economic, political, and cultural center for much of its history. A national capital from 1763 until 1960, it is the only city in the Americas to have also been the capital of a European monarchy and an empire. As the showcase of a nation eager to establish itself as modern and cosmopolitan, Rio has frequently been a laboratory for numerous architectural, city planning, and urbanism trends. At the same time, it has been the site of many of the multiethnic cultural forms that have been crucial to the formation of a Brazilian identity.
Often called the “Marvelous City,” Rio has captured the imagination of travelers, artists, intellectuals, and everyday dwellers. This interdisciplinary seminar explores various representations of the city—in fiction, photography, painting, and poetry, among other genres—while examining perspectives from urbanism and the social sciences. Focusing on intersections between modernization projects and cultural production since the late-nineteenth century, the course asks: What are some of the competing visions for Rio’s future? How have different plans for the city been fulfilled or frustrated? How can these developments be understood in a global context? Topics include the city's history, racial relations, the impact of technological inventions in the urban experience, and contemporary challenges including preparations for the 2016 Olympics
The seminar will meet Monday through Thursday, with Fridays reserved for field trips. Once or twice a week, the class will host a guest lecturer: scholars, artists, or specialists on the day’s topic. Community service projects are available to interested participants. The seminar includes daily instruction in conversational Portuguese.
The course fulfills the Literature and the Arts (LA) requirement and is open to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. It is cross-listed with the Department of Architecture, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Culture, and the Program in Latin American Studies. While not cross-listed with the Program in Urban Studies, it will count toward a certificate in that program. Students are required to write papers in Portuguese if they plan to use this course towards a Certificate in Portuguese Language and Culture.  Admission is by application and interview.

The Global Seminar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is cosponsored by Sovereign Bank.

“Favela,” aluminum mosaic by Jerry Trueman,