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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : English Literature

Undergraduate Course: Narratives of Migration in Contemporary World Literature (ENLI10432)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course explores narratives of migration in contemporary world literature. Focusing on texts from the end of the twentieth century through to the recent so-called 'refugee crisis' that began in 2015, it encourages students to think critically about who gets to tell stories of migration, how these stories are told, and the ways in which they circulate in the global literary marketplace.

The course will:
- examine how literary texts engage with different forms of global migration, paying particular attention to forced displacement, asylum regimes, and the figure of the refugee.
- explore how migration is represented through different literary forms and genres, including historical fiction, memoirs, graphic novels, communal storytelling initiatives, and verbatim theatre.
- engage with key ideas from postcolonial and world literature studies to consider how narratives of migration circulate internationally.
Course description In 2011, sixty years after the 1951 Refugee Convention was created, the head of the United Nations Refugee Agency described how the twenty-first century was proving to be 'a century of people on the move'. By the start of the so-called 'refugee crisis' in 2015, migration had become one of the most contested issues in international politics. This course explores how global migration has been represented in contemporary world literature, focusing particularly on narratives of forced displacement, stories of asylum, and the representation of refugees.

The course is organised chronologically, moving from the end of the twentieth century, through to the so-called 'refugee crisis', and concludes with speculative imaginaries of climate-induced migration. Through this structure, we will trace how legacies of colonialism and forms of neo-colonial intervention have shaped contemporary migration patterns and asylum regimes. We will look at how literary texts engage with evolving politics, patterns, and cultural responses to diverse forms of migration caused by conflict, political persecution, natural disasters, and climate change. We will explore texts by a diverse range of authors from the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, South and Southeast Asia writing in a range of locations including Britain, Europe, and the US. As we examine how migration has been represented in different literary forms and genres - from historical fiction to memoirs, dystopian short stories, magical realist texts, graphic novels, poetry, community storytelling projects and verbatim theatre - we will engage with key debates around diasporic imaginaries, constructions of the 'migrant author', forms of testimonial writing, as well as the political and affective potential of migration literature. Throughout the course, we will also consider how the literary texts we analyse have themselves moved across national borders, languages, cultural traditions, and markets in an increasingly globalised world.

The course will encourage students to think rigorously about the aesthetic, political, and ethical complexities of migration literature. They will develop an understanding of recent histories of migration in different geographical contexts as well as key legal and critical terminologies of migration. They will be introduced to theoretical frameworks from the interdisciplinary field of migration studies, drawing on postcolonialism, world literature, border studies, war studies, and the environmental humanities. The selection of primary and secondary readings is designed to invite students to think critically about how narratives of migration engage with, and are shaped by, issues relating to race, gender, sexuality, class, and age.

Students will attend weekly seminars where they will discuss primary and secondary readings from the syllabus. They will be expected to prepare for these seminars independently and will also be asked to feedback informally on set questions relating to these readings at the start of each seminar. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to consider their own critical positionality and the ethics of their research methodologies through a series of decolonial theory-focused readings and reflective tasks set in preparation for seminars.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 100% coursework

Mid-term 2000-word essay (30% final mark)
Students will be required to choose from a list of set essay questions focused on a close reading task.

End-of-term 3000-word essay (70% final mark)
Students will be required to choose from a list of set essay questions.
Feedback Students will receive written feedback on their mid-term and end-of-term essays. The course organiser will also be available to provide verbal feedback on the mid-term essay.

Students will also be encouraged to attend office hours throughout term to discuss any issues or specific questions that may arise in relation to assignments.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. analyse how contemporary literature engages with evolving patterns and politics of migration in different geographical contexts, drawing on appropriate secondary sources and critical methods from fields including migration studies, postcolonial theory, war studies, and environmental humanities
  2. apply close reading skills and comparative methods to narratives of migration in a variety of literary forms and genres
  3. critically reflect on, evaluate, and articulate ideas about how migration literature circulates internationally, engaging with key concepts from postcolonial and world literature studies
  4. construct coherent arguments about the aesthetic, political, and ethical complexities of contemporary migration narratives in appropriate scholarly written form
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Knowledge and Understanding

Students will be encouraged to think critically about how contemporary literary texts engage with diverse forms of migration in different geographical contexts. They will develop a nuanced understanding of legal and critical terminologies relevant to the interdisciplinary field of migration studies.

Applied Knowledge

Students will apply, and further develop, close readings skills through preparatory work for seminars and formal written assignments.


Through participating in set tasks during weekly seminars, students will have demonstrated the ability to effectively communicate, and debate, specialised topics in the discipline with their peers and other subject specialists. Through mid-term and end-of-term essays they will have shown their ability to construct coherent arguments in written formats.

Autonomy and Working with Others

Students will have shown the ability to work autonomously by preparing for seminars and undertaking independent research for written assignments. They will have demonstrated the capacity to work collaboratively in small groups on set seminar tasks designed to encourage students to consider a range of perspectives, debate new ideas, and report to a larger group.
KeywordsMigration,Contemporary Literature,World Literature,Postcolonial,Asylum,Refugee,Diaspora
Course organiser Course secretary
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