I traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Paraty and São Paulo to embark on the initial stages of dissertation research. Prior to this summer, I had studied for a semester in Santiago de Chile in 2004 and had been to Brazil on three previous occasions for summer study and a 2007 Fulbright grant. After passing my qualifying exams in December 2011 and writing my dissertation prospectus in the spring, I wanted to return to Brazil in order to test the plausibility of my envisioned project. I embarked on archival research at the Biblioteca Nacional, the Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro, and the Museu Imperial. I interviewed writers including Silviano Santiago, Denílson Lopes, Luíza Lobo, Vilma Arêas, Luiz Ruffato, Bernardo Carvalho, Marcelino Freire, Paloma Vidal, and Augusto de Campos. They generously shared their thoughts about the role of literature in the international perception of Brazil. I also attended the 10th annual Festa Literária International de Paraty (FLIP), where I discovered up-and-coming Brazilian writers and attended panels on exile, translation, and contemporary fiction. I return to Berkeley with an assortment of archival materials, a new set of valuable interlocutors, a greater familiarity with contemporary Brazilian literature, and various perspectives on translation, visibility, and the arts in the age of globalized mega-events. In the field, I learned the importance of being flexible and spontaneous with my research plans and goals. Libraries, archives, and museums may close with little forewarning due to strikes or holidays. Authors may offer to meet later that same day. By being less rigid, I was able to get the most out of my time in Brazil. Over the course of this semester, I intend to process the materials gathered in order to begin writing my dissertation.
October 16, 2012