José Luiz Passos

Passos por Tabach 26

Associate Professor          
Vice Chair for Undergraduate Studies
Brazilian Literature and Culture
Machado de Assis, Contemporary Fiction
Link to Personal Webpage                                                 

Office: 5333 Rolfe Hall
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Phone: (310) 825-6659

Mailing address:
UCLA Spanish & Portuguese
BOX 951532, 5332 Rolfe Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1542

José Luiz Passos is an Associate Professor of Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Cultures. He received his Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from UCLA in 1998. Prior to joining the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UCLA in 2008, he held a tenured appointment at UC Berkeley. He was recently the inaugural director of the UCLA Center for Brazilian Studies (2008-2011). He is the author of Machado de Assis, o romance com pessoas (University of São Paulo Press, 2007), on Shakespeare and moral imagination in the Brazilian realist novel, and Ruínas de linhas puras (Annablume, 1998), on displacement and identity in Mário de Andrade's Macunaíma (1928). José Luiz Passos is also the author of two novels published by Alfaguara: Nosso grão mais fino (2009) and O sonâmbulo amador (2012). His current research and teaching focus on contemporary fiction, Machado de Assis, and travel in the nineteenth century.

  • Ph.D. (1998) Hispanic Language and Literature, UCLA
  • M.A. (1997) Portuguese, UCLA
  • B.A. (1994Sociology, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco
Research Interests
  • The Luso-Brazilian Enlightenment
  • Machado de Assis
  • Travel and Translation Studies
  • Contemporary Fiction
  • Creative Writing
Selected Publications

  • Machado de Assis, o romance com pessoas. São Paulo: University of São Paulo Press, 2007. 296pp.
  • Ruínas de linhas puras: quatro ensaios em torno a Macunaíma. São Paulo: Annablume Editora, 1998. 134pp.
Recent Articles
  • "Brazil." The Encyclopedia of the Novel. Ed. Peter Logan. London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. 97-105.
  • "O rito da modernização impossível." Introduction, Usina by José Lins do Rego, 20 ed., Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio Editora, 2010. 20pp.
  • "O mal e a metamorfose em Machado de Assis." Luso-Brazilian Review 46.1 (2009): 57-74.
  • “Othello, Hugo and Moral Emotions in Machado de Assis.” Latin American Shakespeares. Ed. Bernice W. Kliman and Rick Santos. Rutherford, New Jersey: Farleigh Dickinson UP, 2005. 166-182.
  • “Pastoral e modernidade nos Poemas de Joaquim Cardozo.” Luso-Brazilian Review 41.2 (2004): 1-19.
  • “Realism and Moral Reasoning: An Analysis of Machado de Assis’ Criticism of Eça de Queiroz.” Estudos Portugueses e Africanos 36 (2000): 5-20.

Sample Courses

Portuguese 226: The Luso-Brazilian Enlightenment

Though the Enlightenment in the Luso-Brazilian world has held basically the same claims about universality, individuation, and autonomy of the self, it grounded them on a provocative mix of pragmatic and doctrinal principles. Its ramifications have shaped the discourses on the relationship between Portugal and Brazil, and between each country and their own sense of the past. In both countries the endurance of the pastoral mode as a way of probing identity, the concern with a suitable match between ideas and social practices, and their spiritual and economic integration to a broader continental setting are among the topics contemporary critics have engaged when trying to account for transatlantic modernity. This course revisits the contributions of intellectuals such Alexandre de Gusmão, Matias Aires, Teresa Margarida da Silva e Orta, Tomás de Antônio Gonzaga, and Azeredo Coutinho within a process of decolonization during the long and ever-changing Luso-Brazilian eighteenth century.
Portuguese 232: 19th-Century Brazilian Literature and Culture

This course focuses primarily on the first half of the nineteenth-century in Brazil. We read primary and secondary texts related to the transformation of a colonial society into a slave-holding empire of politically liberal aspirations. Students are asked to discuss and reassess political documents, travel writing and novels depicting Brazilian intellectual life at the time of the residence of King D. João VI in Rio, the Revolution of 1817, and the beginning of Brazilian historiography. Special attention is given to the relationship between private life and political contestation. The course serves as an overview of Brazilian culture during its transition from a colony in the Old Regime to an independent if fragmented young nation.
Portuguese 233: Machado de Assis and the Transatlantic Realism

At the very end of their careers, Henry James, Eça de Queirós, and Machado de Assis wrote novels in which actual or supposed diplomats face the prospect of love at the same time as they retire from life. In their work, the seeming distance of point of view, fleshed out as a game of elusive intentions and homeland estranging, yields a thoroughly dynamic sense of self; a self whose dislocation brings about the enhancement of experience. Traversing North and South, English and Portuguese, Old and New Worlds sheds new light on writing and reading across the Atlantic. In this seminar we discuss how cosmopolitanism, displacement, and the novel come together as a framework for bonds that are, in reality, tangible threads of modern life. The links between these novels allow us to revisit the relevance of literary realism for a sharper picture of modern places, actual and possible.

Portuguese 234: Brazilian Modernisms and the 1930s

This course examines the practice and ramifications of Modernism in Brazil, with primary focus on poetry and the novel published during the first half of the twentieth century. Readings and discussion will emphasize issues of style and cultural exchange, the relationship between lyricism and memory, modernist poetics, the practice of translation, as well as the search for national and regional identities as expressed in the period’s poetry and prose. Special attention will be given to divergent trends of literary modernism, the supposed debate with the so-called regionalists, and the aesthetic and ideological changes to genre of the novel.

Portuguese 235: Nostalgia and the Contemporary Regionalism

This seminar focuses on contemporary manifestations of literary regionalism in Brazil, with special attention to the divide between the country and the city in film and the novel. Students will have the opportunity to read prose fiction published over the last ten years and discuss the relevance of nostalgia, regional inequalities, film adaptations, and book marketing linked to new perspectives on representation, identity, and locale. In particular, this course reassesses the neo-regionalism represented by the six novels of Francisco J. C. Dantas.

Portuguese 255: The Modern Brazilian Epic

This seminar focuses on two major Brazilian experimental novels. It explores the relationship between violence, contact, and innovation in Mário de Andrade and Guimarães Rosa. Participants are asked to develop a comparative project on the two texts. Class discussion will emphasize, among other things, issues of narrative style, linguistic hybridity, displacement, and encounter with difference. Required readings: Mário de Andrade, Macunaíma (1928); João Guimarães Rosa, Grande sertão: veredas (1956); and additional criticism and theories on the epic.

Portuguese 290: On Travel

This seminar focuses on fiction and travel writing in Brazil from colonial times to the twentieth century. Students will interpret the relationship between memory and the practice of visiting across different social classes and periods. Class discussion focuses on the way travelers and writers handle the stories they hear, and how they create narratives to account for the change in their perception of individual and group identity. Readings include texts from Pero Vaz de Caminha’s letter from (1500) to the fieldwork and memories of French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss.