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New faculty member in Arts: Dr. Flavia Vasconcellos Amaral

Thu. Feb. 1, 2024

Congratulations to our new faculty members in the Faculty of Arts! We look forward to introducing each of them to you in the coming weeks.

Here we feature Dr. Flavia Vasconcellos Amaral, Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics.

Dr. Flavia Vasconcellos Amaral
Dr. Vasconcellos Amaral "is clearly an inspiring teacher," enthuses Dr. Tracy Whalen, Acting Dean of Arts.

Photo credit: Jordan Ross (Communications)


According to Dr. Tracy Whalen, Acting Dean of Arts, “Whether it be as translator, pedagogue, or researcher, Dr. Vasconcellos Amaral is committed to access and inclusion. She is clearly an inspiring teacher who fosters students’ capacity to recognize enduring themes from antiquity and to understand them in modern times.”

Welcome Dr. Vasconcellos Amaral and thank you for sharing about yourself with us!

Dr. Vasconcellos Amaral (Bio)

Dr. Flavia Vasconcellos Amaral was born in São Paulo, Brazil, where she earned her BA, MA, and PhD in Classics from the University of São Paulo. From Greek and Latin inscriptions to Greek poetry books, reading and writing in the ancient world have always shaped her research. Having worked on the poetic principles of book 4 of the Greek Anthology in her undergraduate project (Honors), she analyzed the poetic arrangement of erotic epigrams in Meleager of Gadara's work in her MA dissertation. Her Ph.D. dissertation investigated how epigrammatists exploited sympotic motifs in sepulchral epigrams of the Greek Anthology.

Before coming to Canada in 2019, Dr. Vasconcellos Amaral was a visiting scholar at the University of Cincinnati (2019) with the project Female Voices in Greek Epigram, which aimed at making female epigrammatists more visible and accessible to a Brazilian audience. Her postdoctoral project at the University of Toronto (2020-2021), entitled Narrative Strategies in Greek Dialogue Epigrams, investigated the evolution of different voices and narrative techniques used in both literary and inscribed Greek dialogue epigrams to better understand the relationship between text, writer, and reader in ancient times. Recently, she has been designing a project about the written word in ancient and modern public spaces. It will investigate our long-lasting perception and relationship with the written word in shared spaces. Before joining the University of Winnipeg, she was a sessional instructor at the University of Toronto and York University (2021-2023), St. Mary's University (2022 remotely), and Brock University (2023 remotely).

Besides her research, Dr. Vasconcellos Amaral has been engaged and committed to community service (Portuguese Language and Literature classes to underprivileged high school students), volunteer work (Translator and Assistant in the First World Indigenous Games and Olympic Family Assistant of the Hellenic Olympic Committee in Rio 2016), and public-facing scholarship (articles, blog posts, and YouTube recordings). She sees such activities as ways to help first-generation students like her and other minority groups thrive and promote the social sciences responsibly. Dr. Vasconcellos Amaral also believes one of her academic missions is to connect the vibrant South American unheard academic voices doing excellent work in Classics to other regions of the continent and beyond. Therefore, part of her academic work is devoted to her international connections. She founded ‘Clássicas Dia a Dia’, a weekly online calendar that compiles and publicizes events in Classics in Brazil and events featuring Brazilian classicists abroad. She is one of the editors of Podcast Archai, a podcast about ancient authors with invited Brazilian scholars in the field of Classics hosted by the University of Brasília. She is also the Communications Officer of the Women's Network of the Classical Association of Canada and a member of Alteritas-Interazione Tra I Popoli and Sociedade Brasileira de Estudos Clássicos.

Arts: What course are you most looking forward to teaching at UWinnipeg – and why?

The Department of Classics has such a great variety of courses in its portfolio that it is hard to pick just one! However, as someone who fell in love with Classical Literature after realizing that there is just so much in the ancient world that is part of our modern society, I look forward to teaching language and literature courses that allow students to have the same learning experience and insights I had as an undergraduate. I want to inspire my students to see their lives differently and promote societal changes by discussing atemporal themes and invaluable works that still resonate with us. Besides, I would love to design and teach courses devoted to Hellenistic poetry and Greek and Latin epigram/epigraphy, my expertise fields, to expand these studies in Canada.

Arts: What was one thing you learned as an undergraduate that was/has been really important to you – and why?

Looking back at my undergraduate experience, I would say that I learned many important lessons, but I will highlight only two: method and collaboration. Each professor had a different outlook and method of doing research and science. Observing how professors conduct their classes, build their arguments, and then applying them to our work is a smart tool for intellectual and personal growth. I learned so much about ways to read primary (ancient texts) and secondary sources (modern scholars), adopt schools of thought, build arguments, and present results – just to name a few! I believe that acquiring all these skills allowed me to be a competent scholar, a much more critical citizen, and a better person overall.

Collaboration was the second most important lesson because building community with my classmates taught me so much. Helping and getting help during my undergraduate years and merely having health conviviality taught me a lot, not only about the content we were learning together but also about education, solidarity, friendship, and personal development. I still have great friends and fellow scholars from my undergraduate and graduate time, and they have proved invaluable in many moments in my life. Working in groups outside the classroom also prepared me to deal with several situations in my professional life that demand communication skills, flexibility, leadership, and active listening.

So, if I could give my students some advice, I would tell them to pay closer attention to how professors frame their arguments, how they organize their thinking and course material, and the language/jargon they use. They can be precious tools to practice what they learned at university in many other moments of their lives. Lastly, make friends and get a little bit analogical. Do not simply interact with them by group chats or social media. Show up in person, sit together in class, and check in. You can learn so much from a peer, and we always learn more when we teach or offer help. Group chats can be very useful but are secondary tools to face-to-face interaction. Put notes down on paper and exchange papers to get genuine and meaningful feedback on your work. Be a notetaker in your class! You will help others, learn with commitment, and improve your writing skills.

Arts: If you've come from elsewhere, what are/were you most interested in checking out in Winnipeg – or Manitoba?

I have heard that it is easy to see the Northern Lights here. I have never seen them, so this is something that I look forward to doing, as well as visiting Churchill and being in touch with its wildlife. Coming from a very urban hometown and later living in another big urban center, I can say that I am much more urban than outdoorsy. Although I love everything urban, I want to get the most out of the natural landscapes of Manitoba and other Canadian provinces and enjoy another kind of lifestyle I have never had the chance to explore.

Another aspect of Canadian life in Winnipeg I am interested in is the local indigenous and the Franco-Manitoban communities. Due to volunteer work in Brazil, I have already had the opportunity to be in touch with some indigenous people from other parts of Canada, and I hope to further that in my new city. I look forward to learning more and becoming an agent of truth and reconciliation practices. Besides, I want to connect with the francophone side of the city. I started to learn French in 2023 while I was in Toronto, and I have continued my studies in a provincial program offered by the Université de Saint-Boniface. I am enthusiastic about learning languages and cultures so participating in Winnipeg's Franco-Manitoban linguistic and cultural activities will be great.

It is estimated that more than 5.000 Brazilians are living in Winnipeg. According to the 2021 Census of Population, Brazil ranks seventh in the top places of birth of recent immigrants, and Portuguese is also the seventh most non-official language spoken most often at home by recent immigrants. These numbers indicate that a lot can be done regarding my language and culture. I still do not know many Brazilians, but one of my 2024 goals is to join the Brazilian Association in Winnipeg (BRAZIW). I am interested in connecting to my community and perhaps propose projects to foster language and cultural awareness, bringing the University of Winnipeg closer to Portuguese speakers. It would be a wonderful way to connect to my local community, promote my culture, and stay closer to my linguistic and cultural roots