Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Sonia Roncador

Associate ProfessorPh. D., New York University

Sonia Roncador



Luso-Brazilian literatures and cultures; gender and race; questions of immigration, domestic servitude, and women’s education; Brazilian and Trans-Atlantic cultural studies.


Since completing my PhD in the Department of Comparative Literature at New York University in 1999, I have published three books: Domestic Servants in Literature and Testimony in Brazil (1889-1999), (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), A doméstica imaginária: literatura, testemunhos, e a invenção da empregada doméstica no Brasil (1889-1999) (Editora Universidade de Brasília, 2008) and Poéticas do empobrecimento: a escrita derradeira de Clarice Lispector (Annablume, 2002). Additionally, my articles have appeared in a number of peer-reviewed journals, such as Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana, Afro-Hispanic Review, Luso-Brazilian Review, Ellipsis: Journal of the American Portuguese Studies Association and Revista de Letras. My current book project discusses the overlap of discourses on immigration and slavery and servitude in order to reveal the cross-currents of the Portuguese and African Diasporas in Brazil.


PRC 320E • Glbl Brz: Immig/Diaspora

45855 • Fall 2016
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM BEN 1.102
(also listed as LAS 328)

Since Brazil’s entry into the world economy in the early 19th century, and later spurred by state-sponsored campaigns of racial “whitening” and labor force substitution in the wake of the abolition of slavery, Brazil became a sought-after destination for several European, Asian, and Middle-Eastern immigrant communities. Global Brazil: Immigration and Diaspora in Brazilian Culture thus examines a variety of 20th century literature, films and other cultural artifacts capturing the striking multicultural reality of Brazilian society, thereby challenging the over-simplified nationalist imagination of Brazil as a unified, harmonious, racially-mixed nation. This course also includes contemporary textual as well as visual representations of the Brazilian Diaspora in both the US and Europe. As Brazil emerges as a key player in the global economy and political arena, it becomes therefore crucial to analyze its complex, dynamic and continually evolving cultural landscape. This course carries the Global Cultures flag

POR 375 • Immigratn/Diasp Brazil Cul

45085 • Spring 2016
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BEN 1.102

Taught in Portuguese. Examination of twentieth-century literature, films, and other cultural artifacts that capture the multicultural reality of Brazilian society and challenge the image of Brazil as a unified, harmonious, racially-mixed nation. Subjects include contemporary textual and visual representations of the Brazilian diaspora in the United States and Europe.

ILA 388 • Luso Migrations

44945 • Fall 2015
Meets TH 5:00PM-8:00PM BEN 1.118
(also listed as LAS 392P)


One way of assessing postcolonial pacts of political and cultural alliances—or rather conflicts—among the Portuguese-speaking countries and regional enclaves involves the study of the manifold paths and modes of human mobility within the transnational lusophone zone. The seminar Luso Migrations: Brazil, Portugal and Lusophone Africa proposes to explore contemporary cultural expressions (namely, fiction, memoirs, travelogues and films) emerging from or about diasporic subjects in Brazil, Portugal and relevant parts of Africa, especially Angola and Cape Verde. Drawing from Rosi Braidotti’s notion of “nomadic subjectivity,” the course engages with immigration narratives, from early twentieth century to the present, in order to explore the evolution of cultural constructions of sameness and difference between Portugal and its former colonies, as well as within these nations. In this last regard, special emphasis will be placed on the subalternization of Portugal-born immigrants in Brazil, Angola and Cape Verde, as well as the “Portuguese-becoming-minority” (Braidotti) phenomenon in contemporary multi-ethnic urban Portugal.

Given the specific contexts of emergence of luso-diasporas in these countries, the seminar is organized around the following historic events: (a) the Great Immigration era in Brazil (1880s-1920s) and its centrality in intellectual debates on the national “racial stock” and European acclimatization in the tropics; (b) the luso-tropicalist ideologies framing Brazil and Portugal’s foreign policies and their repercussions in colonized Africa (1920s-1950s); (c) the African Decolonization period (1950s-1980s) and Brazil’s strategized “racial democracy” policy for the sake of self-promotion as an emerging world power; and, finally, (d) the contemporary Globalization age (1980s-present) marked by Portugal’s contradictory membership in the European Union and rhetoric of brotherhood/lusofonia in relation to other lusophone nations and regions. In sum, the seminar examines the mutual reliance among Portuguese-speaking nations in building imaginaries of nationhood and “national race.” Additionally, the course explores Portugal’s contemporary refashioning as a member of the European Union, and its former colonies’—especially Brazil’s—new international prominence and shifting alliances.


Active class participation, including exercises such as leading class discussions (20%); one oral report of the final paper proposal (20%); and a final research paper (60%). Instructor will use “plus” and “minus” grades for final course grades.

Classes will be taught in Portuguese. Reading knowledge of Portuguese is required but class participation and the final paper may be in Spanish or in English.

Primary Readings (preliminary):

João do Rio. Vida vertiginosa (1911)

Ferreira de Castro. Os emigrantes (1928)

Adonias Filho. Luanda Beira Bahia (1971)

Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas. Terra Estrangeira (1996; film)

José Eduardo Agualusa. Nação Crioula (1997)

Sergio Trefaut. Lisboetas (2004;film)

Germano Almeida. Eva (2006)

Luiz Ruffato. Estive em Lisboa e lembrei de você (2010)

José Miguel Ribeiro. Viagem a Cabo Verde (film)

Secondary Readings (preliminary):

Rosi Braidotti. Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011.

Antonio Sergio A. Guimarães. “Democracia Racial: o ideal, o pacto e o mito.” Novos Estudos 61 (2011).

Jerry Dávila. Hotel Trópico: Brazil and the Challenge of African Decolonization, 1950-1980. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2010.

Bela Feldman-Bianco (org.). Nações e diásporas: estudos comparativos entre Brasil e Portugal. Campinas: Editora da Unicamp, 2010.

Matt Wray. Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2006

Sara Ahmed et al. Uprrotings/Regroundings: Questions of Home and Migration. Oxford and New York: Berg, 2003.

Sara Ahmed. Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality. London and New York: Routledge, 2000.

Kabengelê Munanga. Rediscutindo a mestiçagem no Brasil: identidade nacional versus identidade negra. Petrópolis: Vozes, 1999.

Boaventura de Sousa Santos. Pela mão de Alice: o social e o politico na pós-modernidade. Porto: Edições Afrontamento, 1994.

Gladys Sabina Ribeiro. Mata Galegos: Os Portugueses e os conflitos de trabalho na República Velha. São Paulo: Editora Brasiliense, 1990.

Erving Goffman. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1963.

Gilberto Freyre. O mundo que o Português criou: aspectos das relações sociaes e de cultura do Brasil com Portugal e as colônias portuguesas. Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio: 1940; Alfredo Cesar Melo. “Hibridismo (in)domáveis: possíveis contribuições da obra de Gilberto Freyre para uma teoria pós-colonial lusófona.” Luso-Brazilian Review 51.1 (2014): 68-92.

POR 328C • Intro To Lit & Cul

45120 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM MEZ 1.210

Taught in Portuguese. Overview of Luso-Brazilian literatures and cultures, including the arts and popular expressions from a multidisciplinary perspective.

POR 375 • Gend/Sexlty/Labr Brazil Cul

45575 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM MEZ 1.122
(also listed as LAS 370P)

The objective of this course is to introduce students to the vast spectrum of working women characters in Brazilian literature and film (namely, maids, prostitutes, teachers, factory workers, street vendors, as well as unpaid housewives), in order to examine the roles of race and gender in shaping the repertoire of stereotypes surrounding women’s labor in modern Brazil.

ILA 388 • White Atlantic: Race In Brazil

46570 • Fall 2013
Meets M 5:00PM-8:00PM CLA 0.124


Drawing from late-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century fiction and travel writing, this course aims to examine symbolic strategies of conflating whiteness and hegemony in a country (Brazil) where mestiçagem has paved the way for elites to imagine a national race while securing their own social privileges and status. In addition to examining the cultural imaginary of mestiçagem in modern Brazil, the course also proposes to view the flux of immigration and immigrant representations that both challenged and reinforced white Brazilians’ symbolic superiority. Some topics of discussions in the course include: the notion of Brazilians’ inauthentic whiteness in European travelogues; the discourse of white degeneration and the emergence of the “Black Portuguese”; the role of the literary mammy in producing white mestiços; and the Transatlantic routes/roots of white slavery. By way of engaging with such topics, the course will ultimately help to familiarize students with Brazilian and US theories of race and immigration, in particular those that demonstrate the multifaceted nature of whiteness (as a socio-racial construct) and the system of social inequality it enforces.

Primary & Secondary Readings (preliminary): 

Charles Expilly. Mulheres e costumes do Brasil. Trad. Gastão Penalva. 2 ed. São Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional, 1977 (1863)

Louis Agassiz & Elizabeth Agassiz. Viagem ao Brasil. Trad. João Etienne Filho. Belo Horizonte: Itatiaia, 1975 (1868)

Bernardo Guimarães. A escrava Isaura. 11 ed. São Paulo: Ática, 1982 (1875)

Júlia Lopes de Almeida. Memórias de Marta: romance.  Florianópolis: Editora Mulheres, 2007 (1886)

Aluísio de Azevedo. O Cortiço. 13. ed. São Paulo: Ática, 1983 (1891)

João do Rio. As religiões do Rio. Rio de Janeiro: Jose Olymio, 2006 (1904)

Monteiro Lobato. O choque das raças; ou O presidente negro: romance Americano do anno de 2228. São Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional, 1926

José Lins do Rego. Menino de engenho: romance. 20 ed. Rio de Janeiro: Jose Olympio, 1974 (1932)

Stefan Zweig. Brasil, país do futuro. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Guanabara, 1941

Kabengelê Munanga. Rediscutindo a mestiçagem no Brasil: identidade nacional versus identidade negra. Petrópolis: Editora Vozes, 1999

Liv Sovik. Aqui ninguém é branco. Rio de Janeiro: Aeroplano, 2009

Iray Carone & Maria Aparecida da Silva Bento (orgs). Psicologia social do racism: estudos sobre branquitude e branquamento no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Vozes, 2002

Ruth Frankenberg. Displacing Whiteness: Essays in Social and Cultural Criticism. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997

Matt Wray. Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006


Active class participation, including exercises such as leading class discussions (20%); one oral report of the final paper proposal (20%); and a final research paper (60%). Instructor will use “plus” and “minus” grades for final course grades.

Classes will be taught in Portuguese. Reading knowledge of Portuguese is required but class participation and the final paper may be in Spanish or in English.


POR 381 • Immig & Transnatlsm Brazil Cul

45950 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BEN 1.118
(also listed as LAS 392P)

COURSE TITLE: Immigration and Transnationalism in Brazilian Culture (COMPARATIVE COURSE)


The recent rise in Brazil's immigration rate pales in comparison to the flood of immigrants the country hosted from the aftermath of the legal suspension of the African slave traffic (1851) to the decades following the abolition of slavery (1888) through Getúlio Vargas’s Estado Novo (1937-45). Immigration and Transnationalism in Brazilian Culture will explore the impact of such an intense inflow of foreign migrants (mostly Europeans, but also Asians, Middle-Eastern, as well as US confederates) within the nationalist discourses of modernity, civilization and economic progress. Drawing from a number of nineteenth and twentieth-century travel narratives, novels, stories and journalistic chronicles, this seminar will examine the ambivalent status of immigrants as both model citizens and threats to the country’s idealized body politic. This seminar will also discuss (a) the influence of historical constructs of gender and race in literary representations of modes of displacement; (b) the intertwined notions of domesticity and nationality, including the literary plight of the female immigrant; and (c) the vicissitudes of constructions of whiteness in Brazil. Finally, because the seminar emphasizes Portuguese immigration to Brazil, in particular clandestine immigration, it also proposes to expand the debate on Luso-Brazilian transatlantic relations by introducing the controversial issue of so-called “white traffic.”


Your grade will be based on: active class participation, including exercises such as leading class discussion (30%); one oral report of the final paper proposal (20%); and a final research paper (50%).

Classes will be taught in Portuguese. Reading knowledge of Portuguese is required but class participation and the final paper may be in Spanish or in English.


Primary Readings:

Francisco Manuel Raposo de Almeida. As folhas de um álbum. Santos, 1851.

Joaquim Baptista Moreira. A escravatura branca e o consul portuguez em Pernambuco. Lisboa: Typographia do Jornal do Commercio, 1854 (excerpts).

Iva von Binzer. Os meus romanos: alegrias e tristezas de uma educadora alemã no Brasil (1 ed. in Portuguese 1916).

Aluísio Azevedo. O cortiço. São Paulo: Martins, 1973 (1 ed. 1891).

Graça Aranha. Canaã: romance. Rio de Janeiro: J. Aguilar, 1974 (1 ed. 1901).

Júlia Lopes de Almeida & Felinto de Almeida (A. Julinto, pseud.) A casa verde. São Paulo: Companhia Nacional, 1932 (first published as feuilleton 1898).

Antônio de Alcântara Machado. Novelas paulistanas: Brás, Bexiga, Barra Funda. Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio, 1971 (1 ed. 1927).

Mario de Andrade. Amar verbo intransitivo: idílio. São Paulo: Martins, 1976 (1 ed. 1927).

Secondary Readings:

Caren Kaplan. Questions of Travel: Postmodern Discourses of Displacement. Durham, DC: Duke University Press, 1996.

Edward Said. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

Roberto Schwarz. “Nacional por subtração.” Que horas são? São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 1987: 29-48

Jeffrey Lesser. Negotiating National Identity: Immigrants, Minorites, and the Struggle for Ethnicity in Brazil. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999.

May Bletz. Immigration and Acculturation in Brazil and Argentina: 1890-1929.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Ademir P. Ferreira et al (org.). A experiência migrante: entre deslocamentos e reconstruções. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Garamond, 2010.

POR 327L • Brazilian Cul/Lit Of 19th Cen

46517 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 11:00AM-12:30PM BEN 1.124

coming soon

POR 375 • Color Of Progress

46530 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM JES A205A
(also listed as LAS 370P)


A common way for intellectuals and artists to approach the question of national identity in Brazil has been the association of the singularities of Brazilian society and civilization with race. The fact os that from 19th century onward, or since Brazilian independence from Portugal, intellectuals have been devoted to the construction of a Brazilian “race” drawing upon- and sometimes resisting- European theories of race/ mestiçagem. To examine the different meanings and values attributed by major Brazilian writers to the national “race” is one main purpose of this course. Others include an analysis of the images of slavery and slaves as found in 19th – century Brazilian abolitionist literature ( the tragic mulata; the loyal mammy and preto velho, the evil and the revolutionary slaves); Indianism and Primitivism as leitmotifs in 19th century foundational narrative as well in 20th century avant-grade fiction; fictional and self-representational literature by Afro-Brazilian authors; the debate around a “Black esthetics”; and finally, the representation of Afro- Brazilian in other media such as film, painting, television, and popular music (samba, hip-hop, funk)



Xerox Packet (a selection of stories and critical essays made by the instructor); the course packet will include a variety of writers, namely Maria Firmina dos Reis, Joaquim Manuel de Macedo, Bernardo Guimarães, Lime Barreto, Jorge de Lima, Carolina Maria de Jesus, Paulo Lins, and Conceição Evaristo.



Students must read all assigned texts in advance and should be able to answer the instructor’s questions on the content and significance of the works. Prior to each class period, two to three questions will be sent to the students (via Blackboard); students should type out their answers and be prepared to hand them in. Students will periodically get feedback both on the content of their analyses, and on the quality of their writing. Final grade will be based on: class participation (10%) and weekly written assignments (20%); four tests (40%); and one final exam (30%).


POR 381 • Servitude In Lat Amer Lit/Cul

45985 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM BEN 1.118
(also listed as LAS 392P)

TTh 2:00-3:30 PM

MEETS WITH: LAS 392P, 40390; WGS 393, 47320


Despite a scholarly consensus about servants’ symbolic marginality or even invisibility within the context of Latin American fiction, this course proposes to examine several novels and testimonios from early 19th to late 20th century in order to demonstrate that maids have actually played central roles in the literary elaboration of distinctive transitional moments in which social class, gender and racial identities were redefined. One of the main topics that this course addresses is the ideological uses of the literary maid to account for her paradoxical centrality, as a legacy of colonialism, within post-independence nationalist novels. For instance, we will examine Latin American intellectuals’ reliance on the fictive maid as a utilitarian social and racial counterpoint to the ideal model of femaleness according to the bourgeois values of hygiene and altruism. In addition, this course proposes to analyze the relevance of the myths of the mammy and the cordial, sensual mulatta, usually personified as a maid, as figures of racial conciliation in avant-garde childhood memoirs. By drawing on contemporary testimonios as well as documentary-like films such as Brazilian Fernando Meirelles’s Doméstica: o filme and Argentine Jorge Gaggero’s Cama Adentro, finally, the course proposes narratives of servitude that challenge the hegemonic stereotyped representations of servants.

Classes will be taught in Portuguese. Reading knowledge of Portuguese and Spanish is required. Class participation and the final paper may be in Portuguese, Spanish or English.


Your grade will be based on: active class participation, including exercises such as leading class discussion (30%); three 2-3 pp. essays (30%); and a final research paper (40%).


Cecilia Valdés o la Loma del Angel (1839), by Cirilo Villaverde

La María (1867), by Jorge Isaacs

A Escrava Isaura (1875), by Bernardo Guimarães

A intrusa (1908), by Júlia Lopes de Almeida

Menino de engenho (1932), by José Lins do Rego

Litoral: reseña de una vida inutil (1949), by Luis Palés Matos

Balún Canán (1957), by Rosario Castellanos

A paixão Segundo G. H. (1964), by Clarice Lispector

Ai de vós: diário de uma domestica (1883), by Francisca Sousa da Silva

La luna era de queso: memorias de infancia (1988), by Jose Luis Gonzalez

Las criadas de Havana (2002), Pedro Pérez Sarduy

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