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Signs of Disquiet — Portuguese Cultural Politics in the 1980s

April 7, 2014 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Portrait image of Ellen Sapega seated in an office wearing black with her hand at her face

Monday Seminar:

Ellen Sapega

Resident Fellow (2013-2014)

Spanish and Portuguese, UW-Madison


This talk will discuss a series of political and cultural events celebrating the life and work of modernist poet Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935) that took place in Lisbon, Portugal, during the 1980s. During this decade, Portugal completed a transition from dictatorship to democracy that had begun with the Carnation Revolution of 1974. If, in earlier years, certain elements of Pessoa’s literary project had been (rightly or wrongly) associated with the conservative ideologies espoused by Salazar’s New State, his work gained new cultural capital just as Portugal was joining the European Economic Community. Volumes such as the Photobiography of Fernando Pessoa (1981) and the first accessible edition of The Book of Disquiet, that followed a year later, introduced the public to new facets of the poet’s life and works. Likewise, José Saramago’s 1984 novel The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis and Lagoa Henrigues’ statue of Pessoa, inaugurated in 1988, inscribed the poet’s physical presence within specific urban spaces of the capital. By the end of the decade, Pessoa had come to embody a new, more cosmopolitan view of a nation that was undergoing a radical process of social, political, and economic reorganization.


Ellen Sapega is a Professor in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese and the Director of the Center for European Studies. She specializes in 20th-century Portuguese literature and culture and has published widely on topics related to Fernando Pessoa, Mário de Sá-Carneiro, memory, visual culture and commemoration since the late 19th century, the contemporary Portuguese novel, and 20th century Cape Verdean literature and culture. Sapega is the author of Ficções Modernistas: Um Estudo da Obra em Prosa de José de Almada Negreiros (Lisboa: Instituto de Cultura e Língua Portuguesa) and Consensus and Debate in Salazar’s Portugal: Visual and Literary Negotiations of the National Text (Penn State UP). For many years, she was a co-editor of the Luso-Brazilian Review.


April 7, 2014
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Categories:


University Club, Room 212
432 East Campus Mall
Madison, Wisconsin 53703 United States