Faculty in Focus: Lucius Provase, Middle School Brazilian Studies Teacher

The Graded Gazette

1. You hold a master’s and a doctorate in literary theory from Universidade de São Paulo (USP). What intrigues you about literature?
Literature is all about perspective. It is the only form of art that allows you to define your perspective. Literature is a dialectical construction by you, the reader, and the text. What is the tone of voice you hear while you read? Is there a distinction between male and female characters? What is your point of view? Are you observing from the outside, or do you see yourself as the first-person narrator? When you watch a movie or a play, listen to a song, or even visit an exhibition, you can only play the role of a spectator since all other roles have already been defined. For example, if you see Hamlet and the actor uses a sad voice, you cannot change it or envision the scene in a different tone. So in essence, literature is the art of perspective, and perspective is what makes us human. That is why I chose to focus my PhD on this subject.

2. What is one book, written by a Brazilian author, that you believe everyone should read? 
I’d recommend three (and I’m already limiting myself): Grande Sertão: Veredas by João Guimarães Rosa, Galáxias by Haroldo de Campos, and A paixão segundo G.H by Clarice Lispector. If these works had been written and published in a more widely spoken language, such as French, German, or English, I believe they would have each won a Nobel Prize in Literature. They would be as highly regarded as UlyssesÀ la recherche du temps perdu, and Doktor Faustus. On the other hand, Portuguese is the language that enabled these Brazilian writers to create unique works of art. 

3. You are an avid writer who has published a number of academic papers, articles, book reviews, and translations. Which piece was your favorite to work on? Do you continue to publish as a teacher? 
I enjoy translating foreign literature into Portuguese. Recently, I have been translating Hungarian poetry and intend to publish it once it's finished. It is also gratifying to be mentioned in another article or book because it means that something you wrote is recognized by your peers. For instance, my PhD thesis was used as a mandatory bibliography in a Brazilian literature graduate course at Sorbonne University taught by Professor Michel Riaudel, a well-known translator of Brazilian literature into French. This kind of recognition gives you a huge sense of accomplishment.  At Graded, I enjoy making connections between my research and teaching practices. So, in addition to continuing to publish my work, I strive to apply my research to my teaching. 

4. What inspired you to become a teacher? 
I always dreamed of being a father. So, I sought a career from an early age that would allow me to spend enough quality time with the family I would eventually establish. In Brazil, teachers are often granted scholarships for their children, which is a bonus. After I began teaching, I realized I loved the profession for multiple reasons. It's a highly dynamic and intense job, with each day being different from the next. I have hundreds of interactions every day with varying members of the Graded community, which is highly stimulating. Lastly, the strong relationships I've managed to form with my students keep me motivated! 

5. If you could choose to have grown up during any era, which would it be? 
I am fortunate to live in this era; it is an age of possibilities. However, climate change will have a significant impact on how we live in the coming years. We may also see a shift in the balance of geopolitical forces, like China outgrowing US GDP in the next 10-15 years. These two changes, by themselves, will affect everything from what we eat to how we dress. Although frightening, it demonstrates the relevance of micropolitics and the importance of taking action in our daily lives. On a more positive note, we are experiencing more diversity than ever before in literature, music, and the visual arts. Finally, for the first time in history, we have the means to better understand and possibly predict the future. This ability comes with the gift of responsibility. It is up to us to take it or leave it. What else could I want in an era? 

6. What is your favorite place to take out-of-town visitors in São Paulo? 
It is tough to pick just one place. Feira da Liberdade is a must-see site. Although it has changed significantly since I was a child and visited with my parents (we had relatives who owned and operated a hat stand there), it still holds fond memories. It is also one of the cheapest places to buy mushrooms - not only shimeji and shitake but all varieties - in São Paulo. There are also several excellent stationery shops in the area. Jardim Botânico is another beautiful and peaceful spot that reminds me of my childhood and that I continue to visit. Within an hour's drive from São Paulo, there are several state parks where you can hike and sail. The state's shoreline is also breathtaking. You can find the paradisiacal beaches of Ubatuba and São Sebastião in the north and the wild regions of Cananéia, Ilha Do Cardoso, and Ilha Comprida in the south, where dolphins are regularly spotted. Recently, orcas have been sighted there, too - most likely a result of climate change. 

7. Is there a quote or saying by which you live your life? 
Among all of the beautiful cultural examples, the popular sayings are my favorite. They cover a wide range of topics, including grit, resilience, empathy, and self-care. My favorite saying is “O que não tem remédio, remediado está." (What cannot be cured must be endured.)" 

8. What is your favorite weekend activity to do with your large family of two children, one dog, and three cats? 
My family and I like spending our free time outside and at museums. We frequently visit the Pinacoteca, Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand (MASP), and Catavento. We have also visited Museu de Arte Contemporânea (MAC), Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (MAM), Museu Afro Brasileiro, Museu Brasileiro da Escultura e Ecologia (MUBE), Museu da Imagem e do Som de São Paulo (MIS) , among others. When my son and daughter discover a new interest, we look for a museum related to it. For example, when my son became interested in trains and buses, we visited the Museum of Public Transportation. Then, when my daughter developed an interest in insects, we went to Universidade de São Paulo's (USP) Museum of Zoology. As a bonus, we get to explore different neighborhoods in this amazing city because these museums are located in various regions of São Paulo. 

9. What is something about you that no one at Graded knows? 
I was part of a Forró Band in the early 2000s, in which I played acoustic and electric guitar. Our band performed at several parties at USP, and we had a few gigs that paid us.  

10. You have been a teacher at Graded since 2014. What is your favorite thing about Graded? 
Perspective. Graded students, at least in the Middle School, are just as open to hearing other people's opinions as they are to sharing their own. My coworkers are also receptive to new ideas. Being open entails not only meeting people from different nations and learning a new language but also realizing that what we define as culture has a massive impact on education. The importance of diversity in education is highlighted in Graded's Deeper Learning Foundations course. I had the pleasure and honor of participating in the pilot. Finally, having the opportunity to listen to my son and daughter talk about Graded and to watch them play with their friends helps me understand their perspectives on life which, in the end, also allows me to be a better father.