Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Department of Spanish and Portuguese

In Sickness and in Health

Tue, February 27, 2007 | BEN 2.104

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

This lecture focuses on an eighteenth-century Afro-Brazilian composer and writer,
Domingos Caldas Barbosa. Specifically, I examine his forty-nine page
autobiographical poem, A Doença , a rare imprint written and published in
Lisbon by Caldas Barbosa in 1777. Through my analysis I will make a case for the
need to resituate this Afro-Brazilian figure within the social and artistic history of
Brazil. My concern for Caldas Barbosa's case stems from the lamentable fact that
despite his vital contributions, Brazilian historiography persists in portraying him in
a negative light. Though unknown or ignored by many modern literary critics and
historiographers who have written about him, Caldas Barbosa's verses influenced
Portuguese court society and opened a lasting space, in the Metropole as well as in
Brazil, for Afro-Brazilian culture and literature. This poet should be recognized as a
precursor of modern Afro-Brazilian literature. To strengthen my argument I have carried
out a close reading of A Doença, which underscores not only how Caldas Barbosa embraces Afro-
Brazilian cultural traditions, but also seeks strategies for psychological survival. I
claim that these qualities mark a watershed in the emergence and affirmation of Black culture and
literature in both Portugal and Brazil.

Sponsored by: Spanish and Portuguese

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