Rio de Janeiro: the Marvelous City

LLCU 209/3.0

This course goes beyond the typical representations of Rio de Janeiro to provide an understanding of the complex social, political, economic, and cultural history that have shaped the city's development and character. Focus is on the twentieth century, but provides the necessary historical background to understand the dynamics of life in Rio.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

After completing LLCU 209, students should come away with the following knowledge and skills:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of significant aspects of society and culture in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil, from samba and carnival to questions of social inequality and community organizing efforts
  • Be able to identify and describe significant historical and cultural figures from Rio de Janeiro and Brazil
  • Be able to analyze and interpret key historical periods and social and cultural processes that have shaped the development of Rio de Janeiro
  •  Improve critical thinking and writing through course assignments and online discussion board postings that reflect upon course materials such as readings and documentary films


The course primarily focuses on the twentieth century, but provides the necessary historical background to understand the dynamics of life in Rio.  Topics covered include:

  • Introduction to aspects of Brazilian society and culture
  • Rio de Janeiro’s early development
  • Aspects of Rio’s colonial and imperial history, including its central position as port and as former capital of the nation and onetime capital of the Portuguese empire.
  • The ways enslaved African labor, plantations, and colonial planning shaped urban development.
  • The influence of late 19th and early 20th century notions of order and progress, modernization and cosmopolitanism
  • The histories of samba, carnival, and bossa nova as windows into Rio and Brazilian culture and identity as well as race, class, and gender relations.
  • Racial and class inequality and urban segregation
  • The development of favelas and questions of social inclusion/exclusion, state surveillance, and violence on the part of police and drug gangs.
  • The perspectives and processes shaping the 2014 FIFA World Cup (soccer) and the 2016 Olympics, especially the ways histories of inequality shape the unequal distribution of the costs and benefits of sporting mega-events


Known internationally for its carnival, soccer, tropical beach life, musical rhythms, and tourism, the city of Rio de Janeiro has been the quintessential postcard image of Brazil for much of the twentieth century. At the same time, the city is also infamously known for its social inequalities exemplified by pockets of extreme affluence alongside massive shantytown communities (favelas), homeless street youth (meninos e meninas de rua), and ongoing violent confrontations between police and drug gangs. In many ways, the city embodies the idea that Brazil is a land of contrasts. This course goes beyond the typical representations of Rio de Janeiro to provide students with an understanding of the complex social, political, economic, and cultural history that have shaped the city’s development and character.


Fall 2015
Course Dates: 
Sept 14 - Dec 4, 2015
Exam Dates: 


Participation Activities


Research Paper


**Evaluation Subject to Change**


Karl Hardy (

Instructor message


Time Commitment

Students can expect to spend approximately 10-12 hours a week (132 hours per term) in study, writing, and online activities.

Course Resources


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Moodle is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into Moodle to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the Moodle site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a good-quality computer (Windows Vista/7/8, Intel Core 2 Duo, or Mac OS X 10.8 or higher, Intel i5 processor, 2 GB RAM) with a high-speed internet connection, soundcard, speakers, microphone (or preferably a headset), webcam and up-to-date versions of free software (Firefox/Internet Explorer/Safari, Java, Flash, Adobe Reader). See also Preparing For Your Course.


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Dates and Deadlines section.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for 2014-15 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Canadian students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $605.31; for a 6.0-unit course, $1210.62. See also Tuition and Payment.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

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Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

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Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.