Portuguese at Yale an Historical Sketch

K. David Jackson
Yale University

The presence of Portuguese at Yale can be traced to the hiring of Henry Roseman Lang, an Austrian with a doctorate in romance philology from Strasbourg (1890), in the Department of Romance Languages. There is no evidence that Professor Lang ever taught Portuguese, although he worked with Portuguese medieval poetry and corresponded with Carolina Michaela de Vasconcellos, Adolfo Coelho, and other famous Portuguese linguists and philologists of the time. In 1908, he received Joaquim Nabuco, then the first Brazilian ambassador to the United States, for two lectures at Yale on “The Place of Camões in Literature” and “The Spirit of Nationality in Brazil.” Professor Lang had a long and distinguished career at Yale, from Instructor, 1892-93, Assistant Professor, 1893-96, Professor of Romance Philology, 1896-1906, to Benjamin F. Barge Professor of Romance Languages & Linguistics, 1906-1922. He was emeritus professor from his retirement in 1922 until his death in 1934.

The Department of Romance Languages, in which Lang headed the Spanish section, would continue to oversee teaching of the various romance languages at Yale until 1973. There was only a minor in Spanish during Lang’s time. In 1929 Romance Languages subdivided into a Department of French and a Department of Spanish and Italian. Spanish and Italian would continue as a unit until 1970. From 1971-73 Portuguese was added to become the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, directed by Emir Rodríguez Monegal (Ph.D. Montevideo, 1956), a Uruguayan critic who arrived in 1969. Beginning in 1973, Italian became a department of its own, and the current Department of Spanish and Portuguese came into existence.

Teaching of Portuguese language at Yale began in the early days of WWII in 1942-43. Yale cooperated with the government officials in Washington, D.C. to institute a “speed-up” program of classes, meeting twelve months of the year in three terms. Under this program Yale began or continued the teaching of Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, German, French, and Italian for the purpose of training military officers. The first classes in Portuguese (PORT 10, elementary, 20, intermediate, and 30, advanced) were taught by Professor Raymond Thompson Hill (B.A. 04; M.A. 05; Ph.D. 1911), who was instructor of French (1908-16), assistant professor (1916-27), associate professor (1927-49) and then curator of the library collection. He retired in 1952 and died in 1956.

In 1943-44 Hill was joined by C. Malcolm Batchelor (M.A. 1940, Ph.D. 1945), who is almost singularly responsible for developing Portuguese over four decades at Yale. Batchelor became Yale’s first professor of Portuguese. He taught language and literature classes for 38 years, from 1943 through the 1981-82 academic year. In 1947-49 Batchelor held the title of instructor in Portuguese, becoming assistant professor in 1950 and associate in 1958. He normally taught PORT 10 (elementary), co-taught PORT 12ab (intensive) with Hill, and in 1946-47 offered a literature course for the first time, PORT 43, “The Novel in Brazil.” In 1950-51 Batchelor introduced PORT 49, “The Short Story in Brazil.” Batchelor continued to teach these same courses through the 1950s. He invited the eminent Brazilian writer Érico Veríssimo to Yale for a lecture on December 1, 1955. Batchelor attended the international Luso-Brazilian congress in Salvador, Bahia in 1959 under a special travel grant arranged by courtesy of Henri Peyre, then chair of Romance Languages. Batchelor served many years as chair of the Department of Spanish and Italian, while sustaining courses in Portuguese, at times with great difficulty.

In 1959-60, Batchelor began to use assistants, whether “native informants” used for phonetic training under the audio-lingual method or graduate students. He introduced another course, PORT 42, “Masterpieces of Portuguese and Brazilian Literature.” From 1962-64 Russell G. Hamilton (Ph.D., 1965), a graduate student, taught language and PORT 41, “Short Story.” Batchelor continued to teach PORT 15, 41 and 42, and in 1966-67 José Santiago Naud (M.A., UFRGS, 1957) arrived from Brazil as his assistant. In 1968 Almir Campos Bruneti (Lic., U. São Paulo, 1961) came as visiting lecturer and remained through 1970-71. In addition to PORT 15 and 42, Bruneti developed new courses in literature, PORT 90a, “Development of Major Motifs of Portuguese Literature,” and 91a, “Contemporary Luso-Brazilian Fiction in Translation.” After his departure, offerings were again reduced to PORT 15 and 42 until the arrival of Maria Luisa Nunes (Ph.D., CUNY, 1972). During the 1960s, distinguished Brazilian scholars lectured or studied at Yale, including Antonio Candido, João Alexandre Barbosa, Roberto Schwarz, and Leyla Perrone-Moisés.

From 1973-78 Maria Luisa Nunes taught Brazilian literature as a section of PORT 42 and began PORT 63b in “Afro-American Studies on Brazil.” She also opened PORT 49a, “Practice in Writing and Speaking” in 1974-75 and the first course in directed readings. Batchelor offered the first graduate courses in Portuguese in 1975-76, “Problems in Brazilian Modernism” and “The Poetry of Carlos Drummond de Andrade.” In 1976-77 Nunes became the first Director of Undergraduate Studies in Portuguese, when Yale created that position. She also taught a graduate course on “Masterworks of Brazilian Literature.” In Spring, 1978, Rodríguez Monegal brought the renowned Brazilian poet, critic, and translator Haroldo de Campos as visiting professor, as well as Brazilian graduate students, including Jorge Schwartz. Rodríguez Monegal spoke Portuguese and actively promoted interest in Brazilian literature, especially in its relation to Hispanic American literature. From 1977-82, Maria Yolanda Umburanas-O’Donnell (Lic., U. São Paulo, 1954) was hired to teach language courses, and she was joined in 1980 by Ronald Rassner (Ph.D. Wisconsin, 1980). He opened many new courses from 1980-84, including 359b, “Afro-Brazilian Literature,” 360a, “Afro-Brazilian Theater,” and 361b, “Short Story,” and 362a, “Afro-Brazilian Oral Narratives,” while Batchelor dedicated himself to new graduate courses, 871b, “Literatura de protesto no Brasil,” 972a, “Decadência na literatura brasileira,” and 571b, “Literatura portuguesa: renascença.”

Toward the end of Batchelor’s long career, Portuguese at Yale entered a period of transition. Ana Luiza Andrade (Ph.D. Texas 1982) became Director of Undergraduate Studies from 1982-85 and taught with Batchelor and Rassner. Rassner offered the first course on Fernando Pessoa in 1982, and Andrade introduced courses 163b, “Brazilian popular culture,” and 364a, “Brazil World Writers.” Rodríguez Monegal co-taught courses in Brazilian and Spanish American poetry and narrative with Andrade in 1983-84. The transitional period entered a second phase with the arrival of Marta Peixoto (Ph. D. Princeton, 1977), an assistant professor who came to Yale as Director of Undergraduate Studies in 1985. Graduate students Charles Martin and Horácio Costa taught language courses along with Peixoto, who also co-taught literature courses with Rodríguez Monegal (“Contemporary Brazilian and Hispanic American Writers). Peixoto significantly increased the number of new courses in Brazilian literature, such as 365a, “Fiction and Memoirs in Brazilian Modernism,” 382b, “Brazilian Fiction in the Twentieth Century,” 382a, “Brazilian Poetry: Modernism and Avant-Garde,” 370b, “Modernism and Marginality,” and 350b, “Machado and the 19th Century.” She was joined from 1986-91 by Leopoldo Bernucci (Ph.D. Michigan, 1986), who taught language, literature, and culture courses. In 1987-88 Pedro Maligo (Ph. D. Texas 1990) taught Portuguese language courses, and in 1990-91 graduate students Lúcia Bettencourt and Robert Myers taught the elementary course, joined in 1991-92 by Kimberly Hastings and Miriam Ayres. In 1991 Peixoto organized an international conference on the writer Clarice Lispector. The first Portuguese lector from the Instituto Camões in Lisbon arrived, Maria dos Santos Duarte, to teach intermediate language and graduate courses from 1991-93. Duarte introduced new courses on Portuguese literature and culture. The lectorship ended with her unexpected departure at the end of the 1992-93 year.

In 1992 K. David Jackson (Ph.D. Wisconsin 1973) was invited as visiting professor, and in 1993 he was appointed as the second professor of Portuguese at Yale, after M. Batchelor. Language courses were taught in 1993-94 by Ana MacDowell and Kim Hastings, until the then Chair Josefina Ludmer helped to bring lecturers from Brazil to teach language. Alai Garcia Diniz (UFSC-Florianópolis) taught from 1994-96; Lidia Santos (UFF-Niterói) arrived in 1995; and Rita Chaves (USP-São Paulo) spent the 1996-97 year. A decisive change for the fortunes of Portuguese at Yale occurred in 1996, with the approval of an undergraduate major in Yale College, which is a concentration requiring coursework both in Portuguese and Brazilian literatures and a senior thesis. Beginning in 1997-98 Jackson took up the position of Director of Undergraduate Studies in Portuguese. In that year, Jordano Quaglia was hired as lecturer of the language courses, a position he held until 2004. As senior lector Quaglia also taught thematic courses with language content on ‘International Issues” and “Brazilian Regions.” António Ladeira arrived from Portugal as the second lector from the Instituto Camões for the period 1997-2001, after a long series of negotiations between Jackson and authorities in Portugal. Ladeira opened a series of new courses on Portuguese and Portuguese-African literatures and cultures. He also began a one-semester intensive language course and taught other language courses regularly. In 1996, Lídia Santos became assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese in a new position opened to create a bridge between Spanish and Portuguese students. Santos offered courses on “Narrative of Memory,” “Melodrama: Soap Operas,” “Popular Music,” and “Cosmopolitanism.” Ladeira and Santos developed a successful course in Brazilian and Portuguese film. In 1999-2000, Daniel Scarfó, a graduate student, taught courses in conversational Portuguese and Brazilian music and literature. Other graduate students in the language program include Rachel Haywood-Ferreira (2000-02), Luz Horne (2002-03), and Estela Vieira (2002-04). In 2003 Marta Almeida (Ph.D. Florida, 1999) was hired as lecturer in Portuguese. Originally from Rio de Janeiro, with a doctorate in linguistics, Almeida is now teaching all of the language courses.

Since 1993, Professor Jackson has added new topics on Brazilian literature, including the Realist novel, cultural history of the Portuguese world, modernism, theories of Brazil, 20th century Brazilian literature, Brazilian and Portuguese fiction, as well as monographic courses on great writers: Machado de Assis, Fernando Pessoa, Clarice Lispector, and Camões. Beginning in 2002, Jackson began a series of thematic courses in translation on “Disaster Narratives,” “Psychology in Literature,” and “World Cities & Narratives.” In 2005 Yale Summer Programs will offer the first courses in Brazil, taught by Marta Almeida, Elizabeth Jackson (Visiting Assistant Professor of Portuguese, Wesleyan University), and K. David Jackson.

A series of speakers and conferences gave a more active presence and visibility to the Portuguese program at Yale. The title of “Batchelor Fellow in Portuguese” was attributed to visitors who gave a series of lectures, Raúl Antelo on Brazilian modernism in 1994 and Rip Cohen on medieval lyric in 2001. Brazilian author Nélida Piñón lectured, and João Cezar de Castro Rocha was a fellow of the Beinecke Library in 2002. The roll of visitors includes Helder Macedo speaking on Camões and many other specialists in Portuguese and Brazilian literatures. In 1995 the “Yale Symphosophia” on experimental, visual, and concrete poetry featured the return to Yale of Haroldo de Campos and Augusto de Campos, as well as luminaries such as Marjorie Perloff. In Spring 1995, the novelist Milton Hatoum became the first visiting writer, under the program of the Brazilian Ministry of Culture, and in 1996 Silviano Santiago was visiting professor, teaching courses in literature and culture. In 1998 Yale hosted the first congress of the American Portuguese Studies Association, honoring the renowned author and scholar Jorge de Sena. In 1999, the first Oxford/Yale joint conference honored the 70th year of Haroldo de Campos. Other conferences have included “Staging Brazilian and Portuguese Theater (2000), “Grand Expositions: Latin American Modernisms in the Museum” (2001), “Contemporary Brazilian Novel” (2003), and “Between Cultures: Brazil / Europe” (2004).

On the graduate level, dissertations on Brazilian topics have always been permitted under the rubric of Romance Languages. Stephen Reckert (B.A. 1946, Ph.D. 1950) became Camões professor of Portuguese at King’s College, London and is today a distinguished senior scholar. Among the first dissertations in Portuguese is Russell G. Hamilton’s work on Brazilian novelist Graciliano Ramos (1965). Hamilton had a distinguished career in Brazilian and Luso-African literature. After studying with Haroldo de Campos, María Tai Wolff (B.A. 1980, Ph.D. 1985) wrote a dissertation in Comparative Literature including Brazilian literature and later published numerous articles. Recent dissertations on or including Portuguese topics include Horácio Costa (1994), Robert Myers (1995), Kimberly Hastings (1995), Miriam Ayres (1995), Daniel Scarfó (1999), Octavio DiLeo (2001), and Rachel Haywood-Ferreira (2003). Costa is a Brazilian poet whose dissertation on Saramago’s early period was published in Portugal. DiLeo’s work on Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban culture was published in Spain.

Thanks to Malcolm Batchelor’s dedication to teaching, Portuguese has been taught at Yale since 1942. Upon retirement, Batchelor created a fund for Portuguese at Yale, which has supported visitors, lectures, and especially student fellowships. The generosity of the Batchelor fund has undoubtedly affected the lives of many Yale students over a twenty-year period. Since 1995 more than 35 undergraduate and graduate students have received Batchelor fellowships for summer study in Brazil or Portugal. Annual grants for summer study in Portugal have also been awarded to Yale students by the Luso-American Foundation for Development in Lisbon since the mid 1990s. The long-standing Albert Bildner prizes in Spanish & Portuguese include two prizes for Brazil. Bildner dedicated his Brazil prize for seniors to Professor K. David Jackson in 2001. Yale’s Beinecke Library has a growing collection of rare books in Portuguese, including a first edition of Camões’s The Lusiads (1572) and first editions of Fernando Pessoa. The Sterling Memorial Library possesses a very strong and comprehensive collection of Portuguese, Luso-African, and Brazilian literatures to support continuing study of Portuguese at Yale.






Copyright 2004, ISSN 1645-6432
e-JPH, Vol.2, number 1, Summer 2004