Narrativizing Education, Violence, and Epistemic Emancipation in Brazil


My summer 2023 pre-dissertation research centered on joint analyses of education, violence, and cultural citizenship as negotiated in Brazil’s “peripheral literature,” a mid-twentieth- through twenty-first-century literary movement in which authors from marginalized urban areas write about issues in their communities to a larger audience. While many accounts of contemporary literature in Brazil portray new movements oriented towards self-representation as divorced from canonical predecessors, I sought to investigate continuities between contemporary movements and the nation-building canon. In particular, my research shows this movement’s recurring preoccupation with public education in Brazil, including increasing literacy rates, violence in primary and secondary public educational institutions, and access to higher education, which would suggest connections to older literary traditions dealing with similar topics. Using archival research and interviews, I attempted to answer: in the thinking of these authors, is education a process of emancipation and self-realization constituting a linear path to citizenship, or is it a process of assimilation, enslavement, and self-effacement? To what extent do emergent literary discussions of education dialogue with the histories and theories of education present in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Brazilian literature that preceded them?

Tessa Wood
Publication date: 
November 1, 2023
Publication type: 
Student Research