English 141 - Spring, 2019

Topics in Diasporic Literatures & Migration

Class Information

Instructor: Roy, Parama
Time: TR 10:30-11:50
Location: 147 Olson


    ENL 141, Topics in Diasporic Literatures and Migration: Refugee Fictions

    “It’s a big problem! We don’t know anything about them. We don’t know where they come from,
    who they are. There’s no documentation. We have our incompetent government people letting
    ’em in by the thousands, and who knows, who knows, maybe it’s ISIS.”
    —Donald J. Trump, 25 April 2016

    In The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), written in the aftermath of World War Two, the philosopher Hannah Arendt spoke of statelessness as “the newest mass phenomenon in contemporary history.” Since then, the numbers of refugees or the stateless has grown exponentially, as wars, genocide, persecution, organized crime, ecological disasters, and other factors have driven tens of millions of people from their homes and across national boundaries. By the UN’s reckoning, there were over sixty five million refugees or displaced people worldwide. Of these only an infinitesimally small percentage have been approved for resettlement in other countries, as newly revitalized forms of nationalism, xenophobia, and religious antipathy cast refugees as unwelcome and threatening: criminals, terrorists, parasites, and civilizationally unassimilable. These idioms of nationalism and xenophobia have captured the popular imagination in many parts of the world, including the US, the UK, Hungary, Denmark, India, and Italy.

    In this course we will examine refugee experiences from several parts of the world. We will do this by studying a wide range of writing, including long and short fiction, graphic journalism, and essays, by and about refugees and stateless people from the post World War II period. We will focus on the following questions, among others: statelessness, citizenship and the nation-state; law, sovereignty, and the security state; human rights; hospitality; and cosmopolitanism and assimilation.


    Attendance; posts to a weekly discussion forum; 5 unannounced quizzes; one 4-5 page paper; one 7-8 page paper; and one take-home final


    Threads from the Refugee Crisis, Kate Evans
    Palestine, Joe Sacco
    Men in the Sun , Ghassan Kanafani
    Exit West, Mohsin Hamid
    The Other Side of Silence, Urvashi Butalia
    What is the What, Dave Eggers