photo of Silvia Ferreira

Lecturer, Full-Time

B.A. Comparative Literature, Dartmouth College
M.A. Comparative Literature, University of California Santa Barbara
Ph.D. Comparative Literature, University of California Santa Barbara

Office: UW1-351


I teach interdisciplinary writing and literature courses that aim to empower students to make their voices heard in their classrooms and in their communities. I design all of my courses with the goal of inspiring students to see themselves as writers capable of enacting change. In my writing classes, we both examine and participate in rhetoric in action all around us. We ask questions about the role of reading and writing in our lives and in our communities in order to connect our own writing practices to social action. In my literature and culture classes, we practice reading for both the presences and absences in different types of sources. I help students develop the tools necessary to critically engage literary and historical sources and to empower them to advocate for voices that do not make it onto the page as well. I also teach comparative reading and diversity of viewpoints as tools for complicating canonical sources.

I use my background in Middle East Studies and Brazil Studies to bring a global focus to all of the classes that I teach across disciplines. My teaching is committed to highlighting minority rhetorics and drawing attention to marginalized voices, as well as to exposing the power structures through which such voices are often excluded from mainstream narratives. The goal of this approach is to allow students from all walks of life to see themselves reflected in the curriculum and to empower them to make the university’s tools their own.


My research trajectory spans the fields of Rhetoric & Composition, Comparative Literature, Translation Studies, Middle East Studies, and Brazil Studies. In all of these disciplines, I use multilingual archives and digital technologies to draw attention to diverse voices.

My research interests in contemporary best practices in the writing classroom center on two questions: How can we increase participation from different types of learners? And how can we make our classrooms spaces in which students multilingual and multicultural realities are valued? In assessing how digital and other pedagogical tools can address these questions, my goal is to make the writing classroom as inclusive as possible.

My current book project, titled Prose Peddlers: Tarjamah Subjects and Immigrant Struggles in Brazil, is the first study to examine over a century of writing from Brazilʼs large Arab community. It links interstitial figures from this archive, such as the nomadic peddler and the rooted plantation worker, to the formation of new prose genres that respond to and intervene in socio-political challenges faced by Arab immigrants in Brazil. I argue that these figures, which are each produced at the intersections of local and transnational discourses of gender, race, and modernity, also embody key identity struggles in twentieth- and twenty-first century Brazil. My project brings a multilingual approach to new archives of minority rhetoric in the Americas, interpreting English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Arabic prose genres alongside each other. It also challenges Eurocentric modes of reading by conceptualizing models for literary comparison at the intersections of two increasingly visible global South locations: the Middle East and Brazil.

Selected Publications

“Confessions and Indiscretions: Translating the Self in the Southern Mahjar.” Journal of Arabic Literature, forthcoming.

“Excavating Mashriqi Roots in the Mahjar: Agriculture and Assimilation in Raduan Nassar’s Lavoura arcaica.” Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East Migration Studies, 2.2 (Fall/Winter 2014).

Turco Peddlers, Brazilian Plantationists, and Transnational Arabs: The Genre Triangle of    Levantine-Brazilian Literature.” The Middle East and Brazil: Perspectives on the New Global South. Ed. Paul E. Amar. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014. 279-95.           

Translation of  “Orientalism in Milton Hatoum’s Fiction,” by Daniela Birman. The Middle East and Brazil: Perspectives on the New Global South. Ed. Paul E. Amar. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014. 308-21.

Translation of “Rio de Janeiro’s Global Bazaar: Syrian, Lebanese, and Chinese Merchants in the ‘Saara,’” by Neiva Vieira da Cunha and Pedro Paulo Thiago de Mello. The Middle East and Brazil: Perspectives on the New Global South. Ed. Paul E. Amar. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014. 228-40.