cod. 1009421

Academic year 2023/24
3° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Letterature portoghese e brasiliana (L-LIN/08)
Letterature straniere
Type of training activity
30 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

The aim of the course is to introduce the student to the assumptions, conditions, motivations and consequences of the 15th-16th century epic of Portuguese travel and discoveries; to reflect on the anthropological components of the experience of travel and contact with the 'other'; study travel literature as an overall genre and analyse its different and most important applications in the Portuguese experience; introduce a fundamental work such as Os Lusíadas by Luís de Camões and reflect on the Renaissance revival of the classical epic; investigate the role of the epic genre in the "formation" of Brazilian literature.
During the course the student learns to: - know the historical-cultural elements of the Portuguese propensity for maritime exploration and frame them in the historical context of the 15th-16th centuries; - understand and analyse poetic and narrative texts, which present complexity both in terms of formal characteristics and thematic-ideological content; - make informed and reasoned judgements, based on a careful decoding of the text, relating to complex literary and cultural phenomena; - be able to identify, discern, evaluate and comment on the characteristic elements of Portuguese and Brazilian cultures, in the periods under study.


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Course unit content

Travel Literature and the Epic in Portugal and Brazil

The course aims to explore the important literary spin-off of the experience of travel and discovery through which Portugal, at the height of its splendour, celebrated its maritime epic. Through texts such as the Roteiro da viagem de Vasco da Gama, by Álvaro Velho, the Décadas by João de Barros (1552-1563), the Soldado Prático, by Diogo do Couto (1610), the Peregrinação, by Fernão Mendes Pinto (1614), and the shipwreck accounts that make up the cycle of the História Trágico-Marítima, will address not only the positive aspects, but also the dark sides of Portuguese expansion and will analyse the different forms through which the maritime epic was translated into travel literature. The central part of the course will focus on Luís de Camões' masterpiece, the national poem Os Lusíadas (1572), which, by revisiting Vasco de Gama's voyage and the history of Portugal, attempts the rediscovery of the classical epic at the height of the Renaissance. The course also touches the shores of Brazil, 'discovered' precisely in 1500 by Pedro Álvares Cabral: from the founding text of Brazilian literature, written by a Portuguese (the Carta do Achamento by Pêro Vaz de Caminha), to the importance of the epic genre in the formation of that literature, in texts produced in Brazil during the Neoclassical and Romantic period, such as O Uraguai (1769), O Caramuru (1781), I-Juca Pirama (1851) and A Confederação dos Tamoios (1856).

Full programme

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Giulia Lanciani, Morfologie del viaggio. L'avventura marittima portoghese, Milano: LED Edizioni Universitarie di Lettere Economia Diritto, 2006.
Fernando Cristóvão (coord.), Condicionantes culturais da literatura de viagens. Estudos e bibliografias, Lisboa: Cosmos, 1999.
Maria Alzira Seixo, A viagem na literatura, Lisboa: Europa-América, 1997.
Álvaro Velho, Roteiro da primeira viagem de Vasco da Gama.
João de Barros, Décadas da Ásia.
Luís de Camões, Os Lusíadas.
Diogo do Couto, O Soldado Prático.
Fernão Mendes Pinto, Peregrinação.
Basílio da Gama, Uraguai.
Santa Rita Durão, Caramuru.

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons. The lectures will be supported by audiovisual contents: pictures of authors, texts, events and locations, documentaries, readings, and videos regarding literary works, video lectures. To promote active participation in the course, various activities can be proposed, individual or in small groups, using the resources available in Elly. This material, contained in Power Point presentations, is to be considered an integral part of the reference bibliography and will be regularly loaded on the Elly page of the course.

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral exam in Portuguese: free interview, to be held in person. The exam is evaluated with a scale of 0-30. The oral exam will test: - the knowledge of texts, authors, contexts studied in the course (weight of the item 10 pts.); - the ability to re-elaborate the subjects studied (weight of the item 7 pts.); - to propose personal in-depth analysis (weight of the item 7 pts.); - to obtain further information in order to interpret complex texts (weight of the item 3 pts.); - to develop personal evaluations (weight of the item 3 pts.). Students will fail the exam if they show to possess an insufficient knowledge of the basic contents of the course, or if they are not able to obtain further information to interpret complex texts, to develop personal evaluations. Students will obtain a result between 18-23/30 by demonstrating to possess a sufficient knowledge of the basic contents of the course and the ability to obtain further information to interpret complex texts, developing personal evaluations expressing themselves in an appropriate linguistic register. Students will obtain a result between 24-27/30 by demonstrating to possess a more than sufficient level (24-25/30) or a proficient level (26-27/30) in the above-mentioned competences. Higher marks (28-30/30) will be obtained by demonstrating a very good to excellent level in the above mentioned competences. A mark of 30 cum laude is assigned in the case of reaching the maximum score on each item to which is added the mastery of the disciplinary lexicon.

Other information

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