ENGL 2920 A: Topic in Decolonization & Migration I: Memory and Migration

Fall 2022

Instructor: Professor Sarah Casteel

In the early 21st century, violent political and religious conflicts, economic challenges and climate crises are spurring migrations across the globe. At the same time, we are reckoning with the continuing, painful legacies of older histories of dislocation connected to traumas such as transatlantic slavery, colonialism, the Holocaust, and the Vietnam War. What is the role of literature in an era of increasing mobility and dislocation? What kinds of insights do contemporary writers offer into the impact of displacement on identity and belonging? How does migration disrupt individual and collective memory? How do immigrant, refugee, and diaspora writers preserve migrant memories that are often erased by official narratives of the nation state?

This course explores the relationship between migration, memory, and literary form. We will read across a series of different literary genres, including autobiographical essays, short stories, novels, and graphic narratives. We’ll consider how each of these genres illuminates distinctive dimensions of migrant memory. While some of our course texts will address recent refugee and migrant experiences, others will engage with older histories of displacement. They will depict migrations across not only physical borders but also linguistic, religious, temporal and other borders. Our encounters with these literary narratives of migration will illuminate the transnational and global dynamics of memory and identity formation.