It is with an ambivalent mixture of personal regret and the warmest wishes that I announce the retirement of my esteemed colleague and dear friend Professor Severino Albuquerque, effective May 28. It is impossible to overestimate Severino’s impact and significance as a scholar and teacher of Brazilian literature and culture. His retirement leaves a large void that will not be easily filled, and we will miss his friendly presence in the halls of Van Hise. But we will continue to treasure his unassuming yet vast erudition, his intellectual generosity and the warm personal relationships he developed with so many of us.
Professor Albuquerque earned his PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1984, having joined the Department of Spanish and Portuguese in the fall of 1983 as an Assistant Professor of Portuguese. He was promoted to Associate Professor (with merit) in 1990 and to Full Professor in 2001.
He published his first book of criticism, Violent Acts: A Study of Contemporary Latin American Theatre, with Wayne State University Press in 1991. He subsequently authored Tentative Transgressions: Homosexuality, AIDS and the Theater in Brazil (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004) and edited Joaquim Nabuco e Wisconsin: Conferências nos Estados Unidos (Rio de Janeiro: Bem-te-vi, 2010) and co-edited Performing Brazil: Essays on Culture, Identity and the Performing Arts (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2015). He also co-authored two revised editions (1988; 1993) of Claude Leroy’s Português para Principiantes, the Wisconsin Portuguese language textbook adopted for many years by many Portuguese programs in the US, including our own. His very first book, though, and the one he is proudest of, was a volume of poetry, Exercício: exercícios, published in Recife, Brazil, when he was twenty-three years old.
Professor Albuquerque received the first John Liddy Phelan Award (granted by the Latin American Caribbean and Iberian Studies [LACIS] for his contribution to the teaching of Latin America at the UW) in 1991. It was followed by a Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001; the Roberto Reis Award of the Brazilian Studies Association (for best book on Brazil published in the US in the biennium 2002-2004) in 2005, and the Elizabeth Steinberg Award of the University of Wisconsin Press (for best book published by the Press between 2003 and 2008) in 2008; both awards granted for Tentative Transgressions.
Professor Albuquerque published over forty articles and book chapters, presented over eighty conference papers and invited lectures. He directed numerous sessions at professional conferences both in the U.S. and abroad, and served as co-editor for Brazilian Literature and Culture for the Luso Brazilian Review for eighteen years. He also served as Associate Editor of Hispania for six years, Contributing Editor for Brazilian Drama for the Library of Congress’s Handbook of Latin American Studies for 16 years; and has been a member of the editorial board of the Latin American Theater Review since 1989. He was an outside evaluator in over thirty cases of promotions (both to associate and full).
During his thirty-four years at UW-Madison, Professor Albuquerque has been closely involved in the teaching and administration components of our profession. He taught scores of language, literature, and culture classes at the graduate and undergraduate levels; coordinated Portuguese language courses at all levels, working with different generations of teaching assistants for many years; taught and directed the Summer Intensive Portuguese Institute every other summer between 1985 and 2015 (for his reflections on this experience, see PMLA 127.4 [Oct 2012]), and participated in over 50 dissertation committees, having directed ten of them. In service and administration, Professor Albuquerque has served in and frequently chaired several committees in the department. He was Director of Graduate Studies (2000-2002), director of the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program from 2002-2004, and initiated and directed the Brazil Initiative of the Division of International Studies from 2008 until 2016, in which capacity he organized several conferences and symposia, brought to campus some of the most prominent contemporary Brazilian writers, obtained outside funds for, and manages the annual Joaquim Nabuco Award (which recognizes the two best papers by an undergraduate and a graduate student in Brazilian studies)m as well as countless other activities listed in the website (see brazil.wisc.edu). Nationally, he served in the executive committees of the American Portuguese Studies Association (2012-1016), the Brazilian Studies Association (2002-2006) and the MLA Division of Luso-Brazilian literature (1991-1995).
For a detailed personal retrospective (in Portuguese) on his distinguished career, please take a look at this interview published in the spring 2017 newsletter of the AATSP (American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese).
-Submitted by Luís Madureira, Professor and Chair, Department of Spanish & Portuguese