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Queen's University

Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures

Rio de Janeiro: the Marvelous City

LLCU 209/3.0

[image of rio de janeiro]

The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures is pleased to announce a new LLCU course: LLCU 209: Rio de Janeiro: the Marvelous City. The course is offered   this fall online through the Continuing and Distance Studies.

The course can be taken as elective or will count towards: Spanish and Latin American Studies ( SLAS), World Language Studies (LANG) and all Plans in Global Development.

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 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 has shaped the city’s development and character.

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.

For further information, contact: 

Dr. Alexandre Da Costa at

or visit:

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000