FCS 522: Special Topics – Seminar on Brazil
Department of Family & Consumer Sciences
Sessions: Fridays 5pm to 10pm and Saturdays 9am to 5pm
January 14 & 15, February 11 & 12, and March 18 & 19
The Seminar examines Brazil through an ecological perspective to better understand the reciprocal relationships among
individuals, families, and their near environment. Faculty, professionals, and community members who have worked and
lived in Brazil will speak on the areas of study found in the department of Family and Consumer Sciences: architectural
and interior design, family relationships, nutrition, textiles/apparel, and education. In addition, they will also address
history, the government and political system, and their experiences living in Brazil and the US. Presentations will be augmented
by videos, internet resources, musical performances, audio materials, and samples of Brazilian food. Knowledge of Portuguese
is not required, although it would enhance learning. Portuguese will not be taught in this class, although students intent on
learning the language will have opportunities to acquire vocabulary.
1. To introduce students to the history, cultures and people of Brazil, South America’s largest country.
2. To encourage an appreciation for the art, architecture, textiles and fashion, folk art, music, foods of Brazil.
3. To describe the educational and family support systems in Brazil.
4. To identify architectural styles and how they reflect politics and culture.
5. To gain insight into family relationships in Brazil and immigrants’ experience in the US.
6. To see examples of textiles and learn about the apparel industry.
7. To explore the role of food in establishing, maintaining and transmitting national and cultural identities.
Objectives: Upon successful completion of the Seminar, students will be able to:
1. To label and describe at least two
a. architectural styles found in Brazil
b. common Brazilian dishes and their nutritional value;
c. types of Brazilian handicrafts, including textiles; and
d. styles of Brazilian music;
e. religions practiced in Brazil;
f. contributions to Brazilian culture of the native peoples, the Africans, the Portuguese, and
the immigrant groups (e.g., Italians, Germans, Japanese).
2. To discuss the strengths of Brazilian families in Brazil and in the US.
3. To identify themes in Brazilian educational systems.
4. To discuss the pivotal historical events that have shaped Brazil.
It is expected that students will read the following resources. Throughout the Seminar, students will be asked to reflect
on what they read and are experiencing in the classroom. All of the books may be obtained or ordered through local
bookstores. I did not place an order for these books through the campus bookstore because I thought students would
like to obtain them in other ways.
Readings Required for All Students
1. Uys, Errol Lincoln. (1986). Brazil. New York: Simon & Schuster. [Fiction]
2. Websites (see lists on subsequent pages of the syllabus)
3. Readings assigned by guest speakers.
4. Poelzl, V. (2002). Culture Shock-Brazil: A guide to customs and etiquette. Portland, OR: Graphic Arts Center.
5. Major-specific specific readings – TBD
Additional Required Readings for Graduate Students
6. Ribeiro, D. (2000). The Brazilian people: The formation and meaning of Brazil. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.
7. Page, J. A. (1995). The Brazilians. Reading, MA: Perseus Books.
To successfully complete the course, students will
– attend all of the Seminar (points are deducted for any absences of whatever length)
– interact respectfully with guest speakers, visiting scholars, community members, and one another
– actively participate in class discussions and activities
– complete assignments related to each weekend of the Seminar
The assignments require written responses to a series of questions, requiring students to integrate the material presented
by the guest lecturers and visiting scholars with information obtained via websites and other readings. Each of the three
papers will be a minimum of 1000 words in length.
Students may replace one of the assignments with a pre-approved assignment specifically designed to address the student’s
major or minor, integrating what is being learned about Brazil. Students participating in the Study Tour are encouraged to use
the written assignments in preparation for their Study Tour projects that are to relate to the student’s major. If interested
in a replacement assignment please talk with the instructor by January 30 to obtain approval.
Answers to each question below should be at least 100 words in length. There is no maximum number of words. Integrate
and cite information from speakers, readings, and websites. Any system of citation is acceptable (e.g., APA, MLA). To cite
information from guest speakers, indicate the person’s name and date. For example. In her presentation on family life in
Brazil, Ms. Ingrid Murray (2005) indicated that…… Or, Families in Brazil will often…….(Ingrid Murray, in-class presentation, 2005).
When citing a website, provide the specific address. You can also refer to events described in the fictional book, Brazil,
to illustrate points made by the guest speaker(s). Papers may be emailed (Karen.firstname.lastname@example.org) or placed in the
holder on my office door.
Weekend # 1 (January 14/15) Assignment Due January 23th by 11 pm
A. Choose three historical events or themes and explain how they have influenced the development of Brazil.
B. What the strengths of the educational system in Brazil?
C. What are the major challenges facing Brazil as it educates its population?
D. Describe at least two architectural styles found in Brazil. What makes these styles “Brazilian?”
Weekend # 2 (February 11/12) Assignment Due February 20th by 11 pm
A. Describe three features of family life in Brazil. You may wish to indicate regional and class differences.
B. Describe at least one feature of family life illustrated in the fiction book, Brazil, that was touched on or not
touched on this weekend by one or more of the speakers. To what extent would this feature of family life fit within
the culture(s) of the US?
C. What factors make the immigration process to the US different for each individual and family from Brazil?
D. Choose one of the following questions to answer:
a. Describe three features of Brazilian textiles/apparel.
b. Describe at least one American musical element found in Brazilian music and one Brazilian element found in
c. Describe three types of Brazilian music.
Weekend # 3 (March 18/19) Assignment Due March 27th by 11 pm
A. Describe how at least three Brazilian dishes developed from the integration of local foods and cultural factors.
Explain how cultural practices influenced the development of Brazilian dishes.
B. Address at least one contribution made to the Brazilian culture(s) by the following groups: the native peoples,
the Africans, the Portuguese, and the immigrant groups (e.g., Italians, Germans, Japanese).
C. Reflect over the whole Seminar. What do you consider to be the highlights?
D. Given what you have learned this semester, how has your understanding of Brazil changed?
Participation 100 points
# 1 Assignment 100 points
#2 Assignment 100 points
#3 Assignment 100 points
Total Possible 400 points
400-372 A (100%-93%) 299-280 C (74%-70%)
371-352 B/A (92% - 88%) 279-260 C/D (69%-65%)
351-324 B (87%-81%) 259-232 D (58%-64%)
323-300 C/B (80%-75%) 231-0 E (0%-57%)
Website Reading for First Weekend, January 14 and 15
Review the content of the following websites before the first class session:
Overview of Brazil
Quick facts, hear national anthem, see flag, scroll down to media and click on
T3 Project designed by folks at Western Michigan University! http://t3.preservice.org/ is a resource for teachers.
Look at the following sections: Welcome, History, Population
Website for the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, DC.
For students interested in reading the news from the BBC in Portuguese
Skeletal information on Brazil, issued by the Central Intelligence Agency
Visit weekly for current events on Brazil.
Books about different cities and regions of Brazil. While this site is commercial, sample photos from each book are
available as are choices of wallpaper. If you would like a wallpaper of the Christ Statute in Rio de Janeiro, a jaguar in a
pool of water, dancers at carnival, or a Brasilian sunset, then take a look!
History of popular art
A concise read on architecture and town planning—then click on Oscar Niemeyer, one of Brazil’s most famous architect and
then on Brasilia. For photos of Brasilia, go on to the next listed website:
Click on the photos to see larger images of the Capital of Brazil!
Curitiba on Frontline December 2003
See the architecture of the Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Niteroi (Museum of Contemporary Art of Niteroi).
Niteroi is the city across the bay from Rio de Janeiro
Read about Aleijadinho, a 18-19th century sculptor and wood carver (who created the most baroque sculptures in
the world). Click on Ouro Preto, Unesco as a World Heritage Site, to learn more about this gold rush town.
Required Website Reading for the Second Weekend February 11 & 12.
Allow yourself plenty of time to read and hear (click on the speaker icon to hear the music) various musical
styles from Brazil. We’ll hear more in class!
A commercial website, but you can hear bits of music! Go to left sidebar and click on “Movements, Styles and
Genres” to choose styles of music. Read summaries of the musical style and listen to examples. Also, you can
choose artists from an alphabetized list. My favorites? Simone, Chico Barque, Milton Nascimento, Rita Lee,
Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil.
PBS Online Newshour - Brazil’s response to AIDs
Created in Rio de Janeiro in 1953 by Darcy Ribeiro, the museum is part of the National Indian Foundation (Funai),
the only official Brazilian institute dedicated to indigenous cultures. A fascinating website!!
Brazil’s textile and apparel industry ranks 7th globally (6th in yarn/filament/and fibres production; 5th in made
articles; and 2nd in knitwear). Folk art includes Bahian pottery and delicate lace tablecloths.
Photos and explanations of woodcuts & milagre (hand-carved wooden representations of parts of the body healed)
Information and photos of weavings, rugs, and hammocks
Information and photos of laces
Brazilian Embassy in Washington, DC – page on trade
Selections from book Women Encounter Technology (1995) by Swasti Mitter and Sheila Rowbotham by Routledge in
association with the United National University Press
Speech on Brazilian cotton industry (click on link to hear the speech)
Textile conference February 2005
Brazilian Textile and Apparel Industry Association
Photos from Sao Paolo’s fashion show 2004
Required Website Reading for the Third Weekend March 18 & 19
Excellent descriptions of the major Brazilian dishes. Click on the links found on the left sidebar for more
Tantalizing photos and descriptions of food!
Information from the folks at the tourism office at the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, DC.
Scroll down for an audiofile entitled, “South American: Land of Plenty.” I don’t know how long it will be there.
A search of the NYTimes online will bring up other stories of Brazil and perhaps this audio slide show.