Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Hispanic & Luso-Brazilian Literatures & Languages


Paul J. Smith

Committee Members

José Del Valle

Magdalena Perkowska


Brazilian Film; Brazilian Literature; LGBTQ Studies; Queer Theory


This project analyzes contemporary Brazilian literature and film in order to discuss queer theory and its ability to resonate with, and bring to light, specifically Brazilian concerns. The main argument of this dissertation is that, on one hand, such ideas and theories may change local perspectives; and that, on the other, they are themselves changed by local contexts. Therefore my analysis focuses on the representation of same-sex desire in Brazil throughout the 20th century and a reading of queer theory with a Brazilian perspective in mind. In order to do that, I use the concept of Antropofagia. Anthropophagy was a seminal Brazilian cultural movement that, through the works of artists such as Oswald de Andrade Tarsila do Amaral and Flávio de Carvalho, proposed cultural and metaphorical cannibalism, putting together European avant-garde ideas with Brazilian traditions yet aiming to produce something entirely new.

My anthropophagic queer reading also appeals to the notion of the abject as formulated by Julia Kristeva and later examined by Leo Bersani, Michael Warner and Judith Butler and to the space in-between, a concept formulated by Silviano Santiago.

In literature, the analysis will focus on Labirinto (1971) by André de Figueiredo, Passagem para o próximo sonho (1981) by Herbert Daniel and Os dragões nú conhecem o paraíso (1988) by Caio Fernando Abreu. In film, I will deal with Romance (1988) by Sérgio Bianchi, Madame Satã (2003) by Karim Aïnouz, Dzi Croquetes (2010) by Tatianna Issa and Rafael Alvarez, and Tatuagem (2014) by Hilton Lacerda.

My readings reveal that, beyond the Anglo-American model of coming out and politics, there are other possibilities of affirmation, be it through acceptance or silence and failure, which are seen in this dissertation as a productive mode of queer representation. Moreover, the pieces of literature and film analyzed here depict queer alternative representations to both homonormativity and heteronormativity as forms of resistance, at the same time as prejudice and homonormativity remain present in contemporary Brazilian social practices.