30809 - History of Portuguese Culture (LM)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Reduced inequalities Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

A very good knowledge of Portuguese is essential, since the lessons will be taught in this language. Furthermore, the student has wide knowledges about the historic, political, philosophical, religious and socio-economic context of the Portuguese cultures. He has high capacity to understand and to elaborate a critical analysis of the cultural specificities of this area. He is able to develop a deep analysis handling complex conceptual issues and to formulate sharp reflections on the topics of this specific area of studies.

Course contents

The course tries to build a broad but not generic introduction to Eduardo Lourenço's thought, through a specific declinatin such as that of the tragic. "Portugal como tragédia" is not just the title of this course or the title of one of the last volumes of the Obra completa published by the Portuguese philosopher and devoted to the tragic figure par excellence in Portuguese  and culture, that is, Antero de Quental. The topic of the critically dense relationship between (classical) tragedy and tragic (even modern) becomes a powerful lens for analyzing the vast repertoire of analytical topics to which Lourenço dedicated his theoretical efforts, with the acute and permanently unstable instrument of the essay. Therefore, not only the "mytical psychoanalysis" of Portugal's destiny or the Portuguese literature as aleternative archive of the national history, but also the "colonial unthought", the heterodoxy and the sphinx dilemma of Europe, a constellation of concepts that structure an effective Portuguese (critical) thinking. Lourenço's elaboration of the tragic is fully personal: it departs from some of the currents through which the tragic has been rethought in the contemporary times, but finds  its roots in a Iberic debate (Unamuno, Ortega y Gasset etc.) and a wider European horizon. A suggestive and lateral way to renew the thought of one of the greatest European philosophers. The course is built in a close connection with the Cátedra Eduardo Lourenço of the University of Bologna and with the Camões-Instituto da Língua e da Cooperação of Portugal.


Essential references

Gil, José (1996). “O ensaismo trágico”, in José Gil e Fernando Catroga (Eds.). O ensaismo trágico de Eduardo Lourenço (pp.7-27). Lisboa: Sophia.

Gentili, Carlo e Garelli Gianluca (2010). Il tragico. Bologna: Il Mulino.

Lourenço, Eduardo (1994). Nós e a Europa ou as duas razões. 4ª ed., Lisboa, Imprensa Nacional – Casa da Moeda.

Lourenço Eduardo (1999). Portugal como destino seguido de Mitologia da saudade. Lisboa: Gradiva.

Lourenço, Eduardo (1999). A nau de Ícaro seguido de Imagem e miragem da Lusofonia. Lisboa: Gradiva.

Lourenço, Eduardo (2017). O canto do signo. Existência e literatura (1957-1993). Lisboa: Gradiva.

Lourenço, Eduardo (2019). Antero Portugal como tragédia. Coordenação, introdução e notas de Ana Maria Almeida Martins. Obras completas de Eduardo Lourenço. Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.

Maj, Barnaba (2003). Idea del tragico e cosicenza storica nelle “fratture” del Moderno. Macerata: Quodlibet.

Unamuno, Miguel de (1967). Del sentimiento trágico de la vida. 11ª ed., Madrid: Espasa-Calpe.


Teaching methods

The method proposed in the course is mixed (blended learning): it provides, in addition to the traditional lessons, thnaks to the platform Virtuale, collective workshop for the discussion of common texts, the construction of specific thematic routes to each individual student, the planning shared by all the class of a work project, a final presentation of each personal work with the participation of all the class. In this way, the preparation is assessed partly during the course, not only in a final test. In collaboration with Instituto Camões, an alternative e-learning version of the course is available for any possible interested student.

Assessment methods

The exam aims to assess the achievement of the main learning objectives of the course, namely: forming a deep critical knowledge about the history and theory of Portuguese, Brazilian and African Portuguese-speaking cultures, with particular attention to the relation between literary texts and the historical, cultural and aesthetic contexts; strengthening a wide knowledge and use of critical methodologies and practices for the analysis and interpretation of the critical, historical and cultural contexts. The exam will be articulated on different tests that contribute to determine the final evaluation and disseminated during the course. In fact, it is articulated in different modes: organization of joint seminars where an active participation in the discussion is a favorable element for the assessment of the skills in order to achieve progressively and integrally the course objectives; preparation of a final work with a deep analysis of a topic among those approached during the course and its following discussion in the occasion of a final oral test on the main topics of the course. The student will be put in the condition, either through the lessons and an appropriate path of readings, to achieve the objectives of the course. The evaluation will be proportionate to the performance of the student in the different moments of the course. In this sense, it will be considereted satisfactory an informed knowledge of the main topics addressed, intersected with critical methodologies used during the development of the course. If this essential level is not achieved, the student will be put anyway in the condition, through an integrative program of individual readings, to reach an acceptable level of comptences. The articulation of the knowledges on a more varied and lucidly composed textual, contextual and critical framework, dialoguing not only with the premises but also with the most crucial topics of the course, in particular those of conceptual order, will add value to the overall evaluation of the student. Finally, in this context, the integration of a critical and orginal contribution, capable to open new and alternative perspectives of analysis and interpretation of the mains issues of the course, is evaluated as an excellent result of the student's performance.

Teaching tools

The course defines a strict dialogue among critical concepts, literatures, arts and cultures. For this reason, beside literary texts, to which a specific workshop (reading and commenting) will pay special attention, other multemidia and internet contents will be introduced, in order to build an organic and clear framework of the morphology of the cultures in Portuguese languages. Different materials and texts used during the lessons are made available to students for a better prepration of the course. The course is carried out in Blended Learning modality. 

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Roberto Vecchi