Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Focus on Richard E Greenleaf Visiting Scholars for Spring 2016: Steve Butterman

February 22nd, 2016

Steve Butterman, a Richard E Greenleaf Visiting Scholar this spring at Tulane, is an Associate Professor and Director of the Portuguese language program at the University of Miami. He has also served three years as Associate Chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, and recently completed his third year of service as Director of the Program in Women’s and Gender Studies at Miami. Prof. Butterman first visited Tulane in 2004 at the invitation of Christopher Dunn and Idelber Avelar, both of the Spanish and Portuguese Department, to give a talk on Brazilian cinema marginal and poesia marginal, the latter being the topic of his first published book. It was during this visit that he also became aware of the vast offerings of The Latin American Library and fully intends to take full advantage of the Special Collections and holdings relevant to his work while in residence at Tulane.

This spring, he is teaching a seminar titled “Brazilian Portugays: Representations of LGBT Language and Culture in Contemporary Brazil,” an interdisciplinary cultural studies seminar, conducted in English with optional break-out sessions in Portuguese, examining the relationship between burgeoning critical socio-political movements and institutions and the language discourses used to configure and conceptualize them. More specifically, the course focuses on characteristics that make life unique for sexual minorities in today’s Brazil while also viewing Brazil in relation to global LGBT sociopolitical movements, critically assess the complex relationship(s) between the visual arts and political activism, carefully analyzing artistic representations of LGBT identities through photography, film, literature, visual arts, music, and other sources. Students will also explore the usefulness and the challenges of Brazil as a case study for understanding the cultivation of ambiguity in contemporary (re)constructions of queer life.

Prof. Butterman takes great pride and pleasure in teaching and during his career has been recognized for his excellence in teaching, including the University of Miami’s Provost’s Excellence in Teaching Award. As he stated on his solicitation letter to the committee:
Nothing provides me with more intellectual stimulation in the classroom than connecting my research agenda with my pedagogical goals. While I enjoy exposing our students to the great canonical works of Luso-Brazilian letters, I feel ethically responsible to achieve a balance between the careful analysis of mainstream literary production with marginalized voices (e.g. women, Afro-Brazilians, sexual minorities) whose work has been banned or censored for social or political reasons. In fact, much of my own published work extends beyond the canon, delving into the counter-cultural and the so-called “marginal” production of contemporary Brazilian writers.

Appropriately, Prof. Butterman has a forthcoming book coming out on this topic titled BRAZILIAN PORTUGAYS: LGBT Language and Culture in Contemporary São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.” The specific objectives of the study are five-fold: (1). To conduct the first comprehensive discourse analysis of the dynamics and features of the largest LGBT Pride Parade in the world; (2). To relate and critically evaluate an untold story that involves very recent developments (through 2011) for the LGBT movement in Brazil; (3). To study characteristics that make life unique for sexual minorities in Brazil while also viewing Brazil in relation to global LGBT sociopolitical movements; (4). To critically assess the complex relationship(s) between the visual arts and political activism, carefully analyzing artistic representations of LGBT identities through photography; and (5). To argue for the usefulness and the challenges of Brazil as a case study for understanding the cultivation of ambiguity in contemporary (re)constructions of queer life. The book’s uniquely interdisciplinary analysis marries activism with theory. Consequently, it will attract students and scholars of Latin American studies, Brazilian studies, queer/gender studies, urban studies, visual cultures and new media, cultural studies, and linguistics.

Tulane and the Stone Center community welcome Prof. Butterman to Tulane.