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Refugees, Migrants, and Exiles in German and Comparative Literature

Explore how refugees, migrants and exiles have been represented today and in the past

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CIVIS focus area
Society, culture, heritage
Open to
  • Master's
Field of studies
  • Social Science and humanities
  • Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP)
Course dates
14 February 2023 - 15 May 2023

This course is a transdisciplinary and collaborative programme exploring how refugees, migrants, and exiles have been treated in German and Comparative Literature today and in the past. This course will be taught in “multilingual German” and will treat literature as a medium through which we can reflect on and imagine migration as an important part of human experience and society. 

Experts from the CIVIS universities and beyond will share the results of their research: by studying literary and theoretical texts and films, the students will learn about the impacts and challenges of migration.

The course content will cover diverse types of travellers (refugees, migrants, exiles, expats), questions of identity and community (inter-/transculturality, belonging, integration, exclusion, diaspora, nomadism, cosmopolitanism), and influences on language (pluri- and multilingualism). Texts, films, and other media produced by authors with and without migrant backgrounds will provide a broad perspective.

The course also involves the study of historical examples from the “literature of exile” (writers who fled from the GDR, or from Nazi-Germany), and from earlier migrants (such as exiles in the 19th century).

This CIVIS course has a strong transdisciplinary component as it integrates not only literature but also other media as well as ideas from sociology, anthropology, history, and law as it reaches out to other disciplines and beyond academia (museums, memorial places, NGOs).

Besides the online lectures and the workshop, groups of 4 to 5 students from different universities will carry out research projects. The students can generate their own ideas or chose from a catalogue of projects proposed by the teachers. For example: 

  • Creative texts dealing with the subjects of the course (including reflection)
  • Creation of a photographic inventory of graffiti dealing with migration in the students’ home cities (including reflection)
  • Visit with NGOs dealing with refugees – comparison
  • Visit of museums or exhibitions on migration and refugees – comparison
  • Visit of memorial places, such as Sanary sur mer, Les Milles, Kazernes Dossin

Main topics addressed

  • Concepts and ideas of refuge, migration, and exile
  • Interculturality in European literature of migration
  • Reasons for migration (political, economic, etc.) 
  • Migration and gender
  • Multilinguality in literature of migration
  • Intermediality in literature of migration
  • Representation of migration in literature and film 
  • Spaces of migration
  • Migration as a diachronic phenomenon: 
    • Refugees from the GDR
    • Exile during the Nazi-era
    • 19th century 

Learning outcomes

Students acquire knowledge from the theories and case studies presented during the online lectures and the workshop. They will improve their ability of international collaboration and of self-organisation and presentation of the results of research and discussion groups. They improve their ability to learn from peers as well as from NGOs dealing with migrants, refugees, and exiles.

The course was taught already last year, listen what students thought about it.

Dates: 14 February 2023 - 15 May 2023 Total workload: 165 hours
Format: Blended ECTS: 6*
Location: Athens, Greece Language: German (B2) 

*Recognition of ECTS depends on your home university.

Physical mobility 

The workshop of the course will take place in Athens from May 8-12, 2023

Programme in detail:

Monday 8 May 2023:

  • 9-9:15 CET: Reception
  • 9:15-11:00 CET: Introduction into the programme, presentation of participants (KARAKASSI/ BLIOUMI/MERKEL/ HUSS/COLIN/TEISSIER/MITTERBAUER/RADULESCU/KIMMICH)
  • 11:00-12:30 CET: Presentation and discussion of projects (COLIN/KIMMICH)
  • 12:30-13:30 CET: Lunch break
  • 13:30-15:15 CET: Presentation and discussion of projects (MITTERBAUER)
  • 15:30-17:30 CET: Presentation and discussion of projects (HUSS/TEISSIER)
  • 17:30-19:00 CET: Keynote by Maria Oikonomou, moderation: MITTERBAUER

Tuesday 9 May 2023:

  • 9:00-9:15 CET: Exchange of ideas
  • 9:15-12:30 CET: Worldcafé with local stakeholders: Project “Social Kitchen” by the NGO “O allos anthropos”, Discussion and Moderation: KARAKASSI/ BLIOUMI/MERKEL/ HUSS/COLIN/TEISSIER/MITTERBAUER/RADULESCU/KIMMICH
  • 12:30-13:30 CET: Lunch break
  • 13:30-19:00 CET: Excursion to the islands of Layrio und Makronisos, Responsible: KARAKASSI/ BLIOUMI/MERKEL/ HUSS/COLIN/TEISSIER/MITTERBAUER/ KIMMICH/RADULESCU

Wednesday 10 May 2023:

  • 9:00-9:15 CET: Exchange of ideas
  • 9:15-10:45 CET: Presentation and discussion of projects (KIMMICH)
  • 10:45-12:30 CET: Presentation and discussion of projects (MERKEL/COLIN)
  • 12:30-13:30 CET: Lunch break
  • 13:30-19:00 CET: Afternoon for free explorations
  • 19:00-22:00 CET: Social event of all participants with local stakeholders (KARAKASSI/ BLIOUMI/MERKEL/ HUSS/COLIN/TEISSIER/MITTERBAUER/KIMMICH)

Thursday 11 May 2023:

  • 9:00-9:15 CET: Exchange of ideas
  • 9:15-12:30 CET: Open Space with the NGOs  “Apostoli” and “Arsis”, Discussion and Moderation:  KARAKASSI/ BLIOUMI/MERKEL/ HUSS/COLIN/TEISSIER/MITTERBAUER/RADULESCU/KIMMICH
  • 12:30-13:30 CET: Lunch break
  • 13:30-17:30 CET: Study-visits of the exhibition “The Land of Attica welcomes Refugees of ’22” at the Benaki Museum or the Jewish Museum of Greece (KARAKASSI/ BLIOUMI/MERKEL/ HUSS/COLIN/TEISSIER/MITTERBAUER/KIMMICH)
  • 17:30-19:00 CET: Lecture by a migrant writer and discussion, moderation:  KARAKASSI/ BLIOUMI

Friday 12 May 2023:

  • 9:00-9:15 CET: Exchange of ideas
  • 9:15-10:45 CET: Presentation and discussion of projects (BLIOUMI)
  • 10:45-12:30 CET: Worshop Crative Writing (BLIOUMI/TEISSIER/HUSS/MERKEL)
  • 12:30-13:30 CET: Lunch break

Virtual part

Week 1 (14/02/2023)

  • Introduction (all professors)
  • Grundlagen zur europäischen Migrationsliteratur, Aglaia Blioumi (NKUA)

Week 1 (16/02/2023)

  • Social Event – CIVIS Social Lab

Week 2 (21/02/2023)

  • Flucht und Krieg in den Essays von Dževad Karahasan und Tanja Maljartschuk,
  • Helga Mitterbauer (ULB)

Week 3 (28/02/2023)

  • Kultursemiotik: Grenzen, Eingrenzen, Ausgrenzen, Katerina Karakassi (NKUA)

Week 4 (07/03/2023)

  • Migration und Gender: E.S. Özdamar, Jossfinn Bohn (ULB)

Week 5 (14/03/2023)

  • Mehrsprachigkeit der Literatur gestern und heute, Markus Huss (SU)

Week 6 (21/03/2023)

  • Zwischen Deutschland und Afrika: Marseille als Exilort, Nicole Colin (AMU)

Week 7 (28/03/2023)

  • Exil in der Lyrik Paul Celans, Camilla Miglio (Sapienza)

Week 8 (11/04/2023)

  • Die Bundesrepublik als Ort des Exils: DDR-Autoren nach ihrer Übersiedlung,
  • Catherine Teissier (AMU)

Week 9 (18/04/2023)

  • Sprache und Schreiben im Exil seit 1933, Caroline Merkel (SU) und Dorothee
  • Kimmich (Tübingen)

Week 10 (02/05/2023)

  • Afrika- und Mittelmeerraumdiskurse in den Werken kanonischer deutschsprachiger Autor_innen aus dem 19. Jh. (aus postkolonialer Sicht),
  • Raluca Rădulescu (UB)


This course is open to Master's students at CIVIS member universities enrolled in a programme including German literature.

Participants should have good German skills, skills in text analysis, and interest in the study and research of phenomena of migration and exile.

Application process

Send your application by filling in the online application form by 30 November 2022 with the following documents:

  • Motivation letter
  • CV

Applications will be evaluated according to the student's German skills (B2) and knowledge in text analysis.


  • Participation in all online lectures and in the workshop: 20 %
  • Preparation and presentation of a project in groups of 3 to 4 students from different universities: 30 %
  • Individual paper connecting the theoretical knowledge with a literary text discussed in the course or with the collaborative project in which the student participated: 50 %

Blended Intensive Programme

This CIVIS course is a Blended Intensive Programme (BIP): a new format of Erasmus+ mobility which combines online teaching with a short trip to another campus to learn alongside students and professors across Europe. Click here to learn more about CIVIS BIPs.

GDPR Consent

The CIVIS alliance and its member universities will treat the information you provide with respect. Please refer to our privacy policy for more information on our privacy practices. By applying to this course you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

  • Aglaia Blioumi is Assistant Prof. Dr., born in Bad Cannstatt-Stuttgart. From 1990 to 1995 she studied German literature at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and at the Free University of Berlin. In 2001 she obtained her doctorate (summa cum laude) at the Free University of Berlin on German-Greek migration literature. She taught at the Free University of Berlin, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and at the Open University Patras. She has been a Lecturer in German Studies since 2005 and an Assistant Professor since 2013 an at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Her main areas of research are migration literature, cultural studies and Landeskunde, intercultural literature, travel literature, as well as literary didactics. From 2013 to 2018 she was the Chairperson of the Foundation Board of the Adamas Foundation Götz Hübner. She has been the vice president of the Adamas Foundation since 2019. She has made numerous presentations in Greek and international conferences and magazines. 
  • Jossfinn Bohn is a F.R.S.-FNRS (Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique) doctoral candidate working in the Department of Languages, Translations, and Communication at the Université libre de Bruxelles. She is currently completing a PhD thesis in Dutch and Flemish literature on the mechanism of literary categorization through a corpus of contemporary works of prose by female writers with a migration background. Bohn is a member of Philixte, ULB’s research unit for literary, philological, and textual studies, as well as of STRIGES, ULB’s structure for interdisciplinary research on gender, equality, and sexuality. 
  • Nicole Colin is Professor of German culture at Aix-Marseille Université (AMU), Director of the German-French graduate school “Conflicts of cultures – cultures of conflicts” (AMU/ University of Tübingen) and an honory professor at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). She works on German cultural history (with a focus on literature and theatre), the theory of cultural transfer, cultural exchange between France and Germany, cultural heritage, and the sociology of cultural fields. Selected publications: Deutsche Dramatik im französischen Theater nach 1945. Künstlerisches Selbstverständnis im Kulturtransfer (Transcript, 2011); (with Joachim Umlauf) Im Schatten der Versöhnung. Deutsch-französische Kulturmittler im Kontext der Europäischen Integration (Steidl, 2018); Lexikon der deutsch-französischen Kulturbeziehungen nach 1945 (Narr, 2015). 
  • Markus Huss is an Assistant Professor of German in the Department of Slavic and Baltic Studies, Finnish, Dutch and German at Stockholm University. His research interests include literature and migration, exile literature, literary multilingualism, and intermedial studies. Together with Heidi Grönstrand and Ralf Kauranen, he has coedited The Aesthetics and Politics of Linguistic Borders: Multilingualism in Northern European Literature (Routledge 2019). His PhD dissertation, Motståndets akustik (The Acoustics of Resistance, 2014, Södertörn University and Stockholm University), investigates the bilingual author Peter Weiss’s return to German as literary language in Sweden.
  • Katerina Karakassi holds the position of Associate Professor of German and Comparative Literature in the Department of German Literature of the University of Athens (Greece). She completed her PhD with a scholarship from the Greek State Scholarships Foundation (IKY). She worked as a researcher at the Department of General and Comparative Literature of the University of Essen-Duisburg (Germany) between 2000 and 2005. She has been teaching at the University of Athens since 2005, and since 2006, she teaches “History of European Literature” as a scientific collaborator at the Open University of Greece. She was Humboldt Research Fellow at the University of Konstanz (Germany) by Prof. Dr. Koschorke from 2009 to 2012 and in 2017. Her research interests include the German literature of the 18th and the 20th century, comparative literature, and literary theory. Between 2018 and 2020 she was director of the Master-Programme German Philology. Theory and Applications. 
  • Dorothee Kimmich is a Professor of German Literature at Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen since 2002. She completed her habilitation in 1999 at the University of Giessen. From 1994-2000 she was an Assistant Professor at the University of Freiburg. She attained her Dr. Phil. (1991) and her Diploma (Staatsexamen) (1986/1987) in German Studies and History, University Tübingen. Selected publications: Leeres Land. Niemandsländer in der Literatur (Konstanz UP, 2021); Ins Ungefähre. Ähnlichkeit und Moderne (Konstanz UP, 2017); Lebendige Dinge in der Moderne (Konstanz UP, 2011); Wirklichkeit als Konstruktion. Studien zu Geschichte und Geschichtlichkeit bei Heine, Büchner, Immermann, Stendhal, Keller und Flaubert (Fink, 2002); Texte zur Literaturtheorie der Gegenwart (co-ed. Reclam, 1996 and 2003); Epikureische Aufklärungen. Philosophische und poetische Konzepte der Selbstsorge (WBG, 1993). 
  • Caroline Merkel is an Assistant Professor of German at the Department of Slavic and Baltic Studies Finnish Dutch and German at Stockholm University. She received her PhD at Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen with a thesis on the suburbs in contemporary German and Swedish literature. Her current research interests include multilingualism and cultural theory in Swedish exile as well as spatiality and the city in modern German literature. 
  • Camilla Miglio, Full Professor of German Literature at Sapienza University of Rome. Her research focuses on contemporary, 20th century and Goethe Age German literature. She deals with the history, theory and poetics of translation, West-East relations in literature, and geopoetics. Her publications include studies on Herder, Novalis, Goethe, Brentano, Rilke, Benn, Bachmann, Kafka, Celan; among those monographs on Paul Celan (Celan and Valéry. Poetry, translation of a distance, 1997; Vita a fronte. Saggio su Paul Celan, 2005) and on Ingeborg Bachmann: La terra del morso. L’Italia ctonia di Ingeborg Bachmann, 2012). She is also translating German literature of Romanticism and the 20th century into Italian. Further information.
  • Helga Mitterbauer holds the Chair of German Literature at the Université libre de Bruxelles. She obtained her MA (1992), her PhD (2000) and her venia legendi (2008) from the University of Graz, where she taught form 1993-2013. From 2010-2015, she taught at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. She was a Visiting Professor at the Universities of Zagreb, Innsbruck, and at the ELTE Budapest. She is the President of the Coordinating Committee of the ICLA-book series CHLEL (Amsterdam, Benjamins) and co-editor of the book series Forum: Österreich (Frank & Timme, Berlin). She has been publishing on German, Austrian, and Comparative Literature: List of publications.
  • Raluca Rădulescu, Prof. Dr. Phil., Professor of Intercultural German Studies at the Institute of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Bucharest, since 2019. She defended her PhD in 2008 on contemporary Romanian-German literature. Research interests include exile literature, migration literature, cultural theory, modernist poetry, intermediality. From February 2021 she is a fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Trier and Flensburg with a project on colonial sea voyages in German-language literature of the 19th and 20th centuries. List of publications.
  • Catherine Teissier, Dr. Phil, Associate Professor in German Studies (regional studies, language and history) at the Université d’Aix-Marseille AMU. Her main research interests are contemporary German literature (GDR and Neue Länder), women’s literature, Franco-German relations and cultural transfer, political and social systems in comparison, discourses of memory and representation of history in forms of popular culture. She is a member of the European research group Observatoire Européen des Récits du Travail. She works in the Creative Europe project “History boards” on the representation of the Years of Lead in comics (Germany - Italy). List of publications