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3.24 Flucht und Exil. Migrationsbewegungen in der Literatur des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts - CANCELLED

Instructor: Dr. Anja Richter
Language of instruction:
Course type:
Subject course, B-Track
Contact hours:
48 (6 per day)
Course days
: Tuesday & Friday
ECTS credits
: 5
Course fee:
€ 1,300
Can be combined with all A-Track courses
🌍 Critical global issues addressed in this course: Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10); Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 16)

Course Description

The recurring theme of the literary works analyzed in this course is the individual experience during pivotal moments in history. There exist numerous factors compelling individuals to leave their home countries. According to the United Nations, the global number of individuals escaping persecution and violent conflicts has reached unprecedented levels. This surge in displacement began with the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011 and escalated further with the Russian attack on Ukraine in 2022, leading to a significant increase in refugees within Germany.

Given Germany's historical context, it is needless to say that the country bears a distinct responsibility regarding issues of exile and migration. In 1933, the rise of the National Socialists to power compelled many individuals whose lives were under threat to seek refuge inother European and American countries. This was the case for numerous writers whose subsequent works not only chronicled the challenges of residing in foreign lands but also showcased the authors' capacity for critical reflection on the political and social realities of their homeland.

Following the end of World War II, a different migration pattern emerged, with people now migrating to Germany rather than leaving it. This was exemplified by the waves of migration in the 1950s and 1970s, driven by the economic boom in West Germany (the term Gastarbeiter/guestworker, emerged during this period). With the fall of the Iron Curtain in the 1980s and 1990s, a significant number of individuals from the former Eastern Bloc States immigrated to the former Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). Some of these newcomers used art and literature to express their experiences and address issues like the loss of language, culture, and identity.

However, international events were not the sole reason for people leaving their Heimat. Between the 1970s until the fall of the Wall, a domestic exodus occurred within Germany due to the forced expulsions of dissident citizens from the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The profound disruptions in people's lives resonate in the works of authors who opposed the system.

The course’s readings will be enhanced with discussions, film clips and field trips to significant location such as the Topography of Terror Documentation Centre, the Stasi Museum (on the grounds of the former headquarters of the GDR Ministry for State Security) and a museum for migration history (FHXB Kreuzberg). These activities will allow us to follow the paths of various migratory patterns, fostering awareness of this pressing issue in contexts of the past, present and future.

Students will practice analyzing and comparing literary texts and examine how historical developments affect the individual's personality, creativity, and artistic freedom. At the same time, they expand and improve their oral and written language skills through their own text production and discussion.

Download Syllabus (printable PDF incl. day-to-day schedule) Watch an interview with Dr. Anja Richter about a previous German literature course on our YouTube channel.

Recommended Course Combinations (Selection)