About Portuguese and Brazilian Studies
Established in 1977 as a multidisciplinary center and granted departmental status in 1991, the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies has a national and international reputation for excellence in research and teaching on the Portuguese-speaking world — a vast geographical area encompassing eight different countries on four continents (Brazil, Portugal, Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe, and East Timor), in addition to long-standing immigrant communities in the United States.
The Portuguese and Brazilian studies core faculty is comprised of scholars in the humanities and social sciences with specialization in Portuguese, Brazilian, Lusophone and comparative literature, Portuguese and Brazilian history, education, anthropology, cross-cultural studies, race relations, Judaic studies, cultural studies and second-language acquisition. Affiliated faculty include specialists in Environmental Studies, Music, Public Policy and Sociology. This distinguished regular faculty is complemented by frequent visitors from Portugal and Brazil. In addition to having a stellar publication record, department faculty members serve on editorial boards of several professional journals and are active in all of the major professional associations in the field, holding leadership positions in, among others, the Brazilian Studies Association, the International Association of Lusitanists, the Modern Language Association of America, the American Portuguese Studies Association, the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages, and the Latin American Jewish Studies Association. The department houses four academic journals (Brasil/Brazil: A Journal of Brazilian Literature, Gávea-Brown: A Bilingual Journal of Portuguese-American Letters and Studies, Pessoa Plural and the e-Journal of Portuguese History), as well as Gávea-Brown Publications, which publishes books on Portuguese and Portuguese-American literature and culture, including translations.
Through joint appointments and other initiatives, the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies collaborates with a variety of units, including the Departments of Africana Studies, Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Education and History, and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Watson Institute for International Studies, the John Carter Brown Library, the Program in Judaic Studies, and the Education Alliance. The department also maintains close cooperation with several universities in Brazil and Portugal through joint publications and research projects, sponsorship of events, advising of doctoral students, hosting of post-doctoral scholars, and study abroad. Over the past three decades the department has welcomed a steady flow of visiting scholars from other institutions in the United States, as well as from abroad; these scholars have come to Brown to conduct research for dissertations, books, and articles. Most of the foreign scholars have been supported by grants from funding agencies of the Brazilian government (CAPES and CNPq), from Portuguese foundations such as Calouste Gulbenkian, Instituto Camões, and FLAD (Luso-American Development Foundation), and from the Fulbright Commission.
The Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies offers an interdisciplinary undergraduate concentration in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, as well as graduate programs leading to master’s and Ph.D. degrees. Among the graduate degrees are an interdisciplinary master’s degree in Brazilian Studies and a master’s degree in English as a Second Language and Cross-Cultural Studies; the latter is administered in cooperation with the Education Alliance and has served as training ground for dozens of high school teachers and administrators in southern New England. The Ph.D. program in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies has acquired a solid reputation as the preeminent doctoral program in the United States focusing on the literatures and cultures of the Portuguese-speaking world. The doctoral program has maintained one of the highest admissions yields in Brown’s Graduate School, and the department has a 100 percent placement record for its Ph.D.s, despite a tight job market. Graduates have been offered faculty positions at Harvard, Duke, Tulane, Notre Dame, Chicago, Smith, Georgia, Michigan State, Brown, Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Ohio State, Virginia, Wisconsin, St. Mary's, The University of California at Davis, Rhode Island College, and The University of Beijing (China), as well as three universities in the prestigious Brazilian federal university system (Minas Gerais, Bahia and Paraíba).
The selective undergraduate concentration — requiring command of the Portuguese language at the advanced level, completion of interrelated courses in the humanities and social sciences focusing on the Portuguese-speaking world, and participation in an interdisciplinary seminar that includes the writing of a major research paper in Portuguese — has generally attracted excellent students. Portuguese and Brazilian concentrators have consistently graduated magna cum laude, been elected to the Brown chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, and fared well in competition for post-graduate awards, including Fulbright grants. They have attended prestigious graduate, medical, law, and business schools, and they have gone on to successful careers in education, communications, law, government, medicine, and business.
Nearly all concentrators spend one or two semesters studying at a university in a Portuguese-speaking country, with most participating in the Brown-in-Brazil Program. Rated by Brown’s Office of International Programs as one of the University’s best-run study abroad programs, the Brown-in-Brazil Program is based at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, arguably the leading private institution of higher learning in Brazil. Unlike some study abroad programs, the Brown-in-Brazil Program is closely supervised by the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies and interconnected with our undergraduate curriculum. Open to all Brown students with adequate preparation, regardless of their concentration, the program has also welcomed students from our peer institutions, including Columbia, Smith, Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Princeton, Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Tulane, Vassar, Amherst and others.
The Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies also serves the Brown community at large by offering a variety of courses in English and outstanding Portuguese language instruction. Quality Portuguese language instruction has been one of the hallmarks of the department since its beginning. Both junior and senior faculty members are committed to and have participated in language teaching. Reputed for its effectiveness and known for its innovative methodologies, the Portuguese language program has attracted a growing number of students; most continue through several levels of instruction. The language program has consistently received high marks from students and has served as a model for other institutions.
In addition to offering first-rate academic programs, the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies functions as the nucleus for on-campus activities relating to the Portuguese-speaking world through its active and varied program of cultural events, including lectures, concerts, symposia, and film series. At the same time, the department extends its resources beyond the University walls by opening many of its programs to the surrounding community. Together with our master’s degree in Cross-Cultural Studies, these programs reaffirm the department’s commitment to community outreach.
Brown is unique in its comprehensive coverage of the Portuguese-speaking world. With its unparalleled teaching and research resources on Brazil and Portugal in place, the department is committed to broadening its coverage of Lusophone Africa, one of the fastest growing and most promising subfields in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies. The department plans to add to its faculty a social scientist specializing in Portuguese-speaking Africa in order to bring its coverage of Lusophone Africa on a par with that of Portugal and Brazil, while strengthening its ties with Brown’s Africana Studies department.
The department has a history of successfully procuring financial support from government, foundation, and private sources. A variety of Portuguese foundations currently sponsor three faculty positions in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies. The department continues to identify additional sources of support to ensure that its resources remain adequate both to fulfill current needs and respond to new challenges.