Christopher Dunn

Scholarly Retreats
Type of work

Christopher Dunn received his Ph.D. in Luso-Brazilian Studies from Brown University in 1996, the same year he joined the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Tulane University. He holds a joint appointment with the African and African Diaspora Studies Program and is a core member of the Stone Center for Latin American Studies. Dunn’s scholarship has been mostly devoted to the interdisciplinary analysis of modern Brazilian culture, including literary texts, visual art, film and popular music with a particular focus on the period of military rule between 1964 and 1985. His first book, Brutality Garden: Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture (UNC Press, 2001), was the first monograph published outside of Brazil about Tropicália, a multidisciplinary cultural movement from 1968. A sequel to that book, Contracultura: Alternative Arts and Social Transformation in Authoritarian Brazil (UNC Press, 2016), received the 2017 Roberto Reis Book Award from the Brazilian Studies Association.

While in residence he worked on developing a book project devoted to the Brazilian musician Antonio José Martins Santana (b. 1936), known as Tom Zé, whose life story and artistic trajectory offer a microhistorical prism through which to examine a range of topics, including modernization and uneven development, rural to urban migration, authoritarian rule and state-sponsored violence, as well as inequality and neo-liberalism in Brazil during the last half century. Zé’s work also provides an exquisite example of the creative repurposing of cultural tradition in dialogue with experimental music and poetics.

“A Studio in the Woods is a truly marvelous space for creative and scholarly endeavors that provides a place of solitude and beauty to work. I was enchanted by the birdsong, especially a hooting owl that had taken up residence near the cabin.” – Christopher Dunn