Ecologies of Exile: Persecution, Marginalization, and Resistance in German-language Literature (Seminar)

German / Comparative Literature

Andrea Bryant (Independent Scholar)

Yulia Mevissen (University of Massachusetts Boston)

This session concerns the powerful and poignant canon of exile literature and focuses on works penned by those authors writing in German who have been ethnically persecuted, oppressed, and marginalized. Working together, we will consider the diverse range of voices, themes, and artistic expressions that emerged from these exiled, oppressed, and marginalized authors and artists. We will embark on a literary journey as we traverse across lines of identity, ethnicity, and national borders to analyze works of memoir, fiction, essays, and poetry cultivated by individuals who sought safety transnationally and for whom German-language environments were not welcoming. We will explore the interrelations between exile, stylistic and thematic choices, and conceptions of identity, belonging, and resistance.

Some areas of consideration are to include, but are not limited by, the following:

· The relationship between loss, displacement, and artistic imagination

· Sentiments of belonging, longing for home, and cultural identity

· Writing as resisting totalitarianism, persecution, genocide, and exclusion

· The transformative power of narrating survival and resilience

· Connections between emotional experiences and literary form

· Dominant discourses of exclusion and belonging

· Exclusionary bases of epistemology and knowledge

This seminar explores marginalization, exclusion, and identity in exile and the powerful role literature plays as an act of resistance against the limiting forms of such oppressions. We invite participants to engage with a diverse array of voices and perspectives from authors who underwent, and still navigate, displacement, persecution, and marginalization. We additionally seek to encounter how literary expression, survival, and displacement prove to be a remaining act of resistance and fortitude. In so doing, we will work on nurturing a deeper understanding of literary contributions as they are located within the broader socio-political context of their respective situations.

The seminar seeks to nurture the opportunity for participants to encounter the multilayered, transnational, and multilingual legacy penned by exiled writers and writers whose ethnic identity was or is excluded. Working together, we will honor the voices, perspectives, experiences, and work of our chosen authors and consider how their works continually contribute to understanding how human experience shapes persecution, resistance, and the search for belonging.