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Welcome to Our New LAS Faculty Member!

March 1, 2017

Joining the Latin American Studies program this year is Aiala Levy, a visiting assistant professor in the History Department. Dr. Levy recently received her PhD in Latin American history from the University of Chicago.

Her current book project, Making the Metropolis: Theaters and the Urban Public in São Paulo, Brazil, 1854-1924, tells the story of how a backwater became a metropolis. The project tells that story not through the traditional narratives of economic or infrastructural development but rather through culture. For São Paulo’s hundreds of thousands of new residents, metropolis meant mass society, a public life among strangers and crowds. Dr. Levy’s manuscript explains how Paulistanos (residents of the city of São Paulo) used theaters to shape this new society. Examining the words and deeds of government officials,  ssociational leaders, and businessmen, she argues that, inside São Paulo’s theaters, a wide range of residents began to realize their own visions for metropolitan life. At the same time, underpinning all of these visions was a common understanding of social transformation: the notion that, through “culture,” acquirable at the theater, every Paulistano—male, female, black, white—could be integrated into a harmonious urban public. As a result, theaters helped ground the metropolis in a secular morality, welcoming new Paulistanos into reputable public life while reordering individuals according to behaviors and tastes.  

At the University of Scranton, Dr. Levy has been sharing her expertise in Latin American history both inside and outside the classroom. In the fall, she taught two sections of HIST 125 Colonial Latin America, which offered students an overview of the region under Spanish, Portuguese, and French rule. The two centuries that followed colonialism are the subject of Dr. Levy’s current course, HIST 126 Modern Latin America. This semester she is additionally teaching the history of gender and sexuality in Latin America, curating the Latin American Film Festival, and organizing a talk by Dr. Brodwyn Fischer on the history of the right to the city in Brazil.

Read more from the Spring 2017 LA/W/S newsletter, here

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