In the late 20th and early 21st century, cultural productions increasingly deal with topics of migration, both voluntary and forced. This statement rings particularly true in the context of the Americas. Migrations always have an impact both on the receiving societies as well as on the societies which people have (at least physically) left, and of course not least on the individuals who are migrating. Identities, cultures, histories, politics, etc. are influenced on individual, collective, national, transnational, and diasporic levels. However, it seems as though the individual (or personal) experiences are quite often neglected in sociopolitical debates. In this context, it is all the more important to remember that any definitions of “diaspora,” “im/migrant,” “citizen,” “nation,” and so on must always be seen as preliminary and not be understood as straightforward terms. Rather, these terms are quite often employed to not only describe and categorize, connect and unite, but also, if not more frequently, to discriminate against and oppress.
This course deals with the specific corpus of early 21st-century novels by Caribbean/Canadian and Caribbean/US writers who write from diasporic locations in Canada and the US. We will read and discuss a selection of written texts by writers who have emigrated from different regions in the Caribbean to Canada and the US (as well as texts by later-generation im/migrants). These works of “im/migrant literature” contribute, for instance, to our understanding of Caribbean diasporic cultures and societies; Canada’s trendsetter status as the ultimate multicultural society; intersecting issues of “race,” gender, class, and sexuality; as well as general issues surrounding processes of im/migration. In the discussions of all of the above, questions of belonging and unbelonging, of home and not home, arise inevitably and these questions will take center stage in this course. Considering this seminar's focus on concepts and ideas of belonging and home, we will thus ask questions such as: (How) can belonging and home (and their respective counterparts) be described/represented both in our corpus of primary works and beyond? Does living in the diaspora mean losing home? What role does nostalgia play in the characters' lives? And the list goes on.
The focus of the seminar will be put primarily on the reading and group discussions of a corpus of primary works. Other reading on context and critical approaches to specific terminologies will be assigned (e.g. on Canada and the US as immigration destinations, multiculturalism, the Caribbean diaspora, terminologies of home and diaspora).
Students can obtain 3 credit points in form of a Studienleistung. Further requirements will be announced in the first session.