English - Free topic E: Refugee Literature

Course content

This course takes a point of departure in our book Refugee Talk: Propositions on Ethics and Aesthetics (Pluto Press, 2022) which explores the many cultural responses to the ongoing refugee crisis. We will be reading a selection of refugee literature (non-fiction, novels, short stories and poetry). Although the primary focus is the contemporary moment, we begin with a retrospective look at the precarity of earlier, 20th century refugee experiences as this will provide a background for understanding the affective nature of being in flight and the significant differences between then and now in the encounter between refugees and host societies. The course will be fashioned around clusters of theoretical, philosophical and critical texts which will be explored in connection with literature by, and about, refugees. In our exploration of the contemporary moment, we will study such issues such as the etymologies of refuge and asylum; the ethics of rescue, charity and solidarity; the language of rights and duties; the predicament of waiting in ‘permanent temporariness’ (Zygmunt Bauman); and the complexities of representing the refugee situation in an ethical environment that expects gratitude.



Preliminary reading list (to be finalised along with detailed course plan, late spring 2023)


Tentative reading list: a selection of refugee poetry, extracts from the Refugee Tales project, short stories by Bernard Malamud, Flannery O’Connor, Nam Le and Viet Thanh Nguyen. Abu Bakr Khaal, African Titanics (2008/2014), Helon Habila, Travellers (2019), Kate Evans, Threads (2017), Dina Nayeri, The Ungrateful Refugee (2019), Hassan Akkad, Hope not Fear (2021).


Theoretical and critical texts:

Extracts from: Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Times (2007), Kelly Oliver, Lisa Madura, Sabeen Ahmed (eds.) Refugees Now: Rethinking Borders Hospitality and Citizenship (2019), Serena Parekh, No Refuge (2020) and Lava Assad, Literature with a White Helmet (2020) along with essays by Hannah Arendt, Giorgio Agamben and Claire Gallien, uploaded on Absalon in due time before teaching begins.

This course only leads to exams Free Topic 4 with Written and Oral Proficiency in English.

Kurset kan også bruges Frit emne A (inkl. skriftlig sprogfærdighed) og Frit emne B (inkl. mundtlig sprogfærdighed) under Kandidatdelen af sidefaget i engelsk 2019, samt Frit emne (inkl. skriftlig og mundtlig sprogfærdighed) under Kandidatdelen af sidefaget i engelsk 2020.


Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 353,5
  • English
  • 409,5


Course number
See exam description
Programme level
Full Degree Master
Master’s minor subject

1 semester

See schedule
Study board of English, Germanic and Romance Studies
Contracting department
  • Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinators
  • Eva Rask Knudsen   (5-6e7b6a7c7449717e7637747e376d74)
  • Ulla Rahbek   (4-7d74746948707d7536737d366c73)
Saved on the 10-05-2023

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