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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
13 February - 17 May 2024

This CIVIS 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).

The course will be taught in a hybrid format: 10 online lectures will be followed by a 5-day workshop bringing the students and instructors together in person. Parallel to the lectures, groups of 4-5 students will prepare projects under the supervision of the professors participating in the course.

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 the literature of migration
  • Intermediality in the 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

The students will learn how different forms of migration are represented in literature, which will deepen their analytical skills.

Based on the online lectures given by the professors, they will undertake their own research in cooperation with students from other universities, which will strengthen their ability to communicate and collaborate internationally and beyond their immediate academic field.

During the workshop, they will continue to collaborate internationally and transdisciplinary, and finally, in their paper, they will have the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to bridge theory and practice.

Dates: 13 February - 17 May 2024 Total workload: 165 hours
Format: Blended ECTS: 6*
Locations: Brussels, Belgium Language: German (B2)

*Recognition of ECTS depends on your home university.

Physical mobility

The workshop will be held in Brussels, between 13-17 May 2024:

Monday, 13 May 2024:

  • 13:00-14:00 CET: Reception and Introduction to the programme, presentation of the participants (Mitterbauer, Blioumi, Colin, Karakassi, Kimmich, Leucht, Merkel, Michler, Miglio, Rădulescu, Teissier)
  • 14:00-15:30 CET: Presentation and discussion of projects (Blioumi, Colin, Karakassi, Kimmich, Leucht, Merkel, Michler, Miglio, Mitterbauer, Rădulescu, Teissier)
  • 15:30-16:00 CET: Coffee Break
  • 16:00-17:30 CET: Keynote Sandra Vlasta (University of Genova), chair: Colin

Tuesday, 14 May 2024:

  • 09:00-09:30 CET: Exchange of ideas
  • 09:30-11:00 CET: Presentation and discussion of projects (Blioumi, Colin, Karakassi, Kimmich, Leucht, Merkel, Michler, Miglio, Mitterbauer, Rădulescu, Teissier)
  • 11:00-11:30 CET: Coffee Break
  • 11:30-13:00 CET: Presentation and discussion of projects (Blioumi, Colin, Karakassi, Kimmich, Leucht, Merkel, Michler, Miglio, Mitterbauer, Rădulescu, Teissier)
  • 13:00-14:30 CET: Lunch Break
  • 14:30-17:30 CET: Visit of the Museum of Migration

Wednesday, 15 Mai 2024:

  • 09:00-09:30 CET: Exchange of ideas
  • 09:30-11:00 CET: Presentation and discussion of projects (Blioumi, Colin, Karakassi, Kimmich, Leucht, Merkel, Michler, Miglio, Mitterbauer, Rădulescu, Teissier)
  • 11:00-11:30 CET: Coffee Break
  • 11:30-13:00 CET: Presentation and discussion of projects (Blioumi, Colin, Karakassi, Kimmich, Leucht, Merkel, Michler, Miglio, Mitterbauer, Rădulescu, Teissier)
  • 13:00-18:00 CET: Free afternoon
  • 18:00-20:00 CET: Reading by Congolese-Austrian writer Fiston Mujila Mwanza, chair: Mitterbauer
  • 20:00-22:00 CET: Social event of all participants with local stakeholders

Thursday, 16 May 2024:

  • 09:00-09:30 CET: Exchange of ideas
  • 09:30-11:00 CET: Presentation and discussion of projects (Blioumi, Colin, Karakassi, Kimmich, Leucht, Merkel, Michler, Miglio, Mitterbauer, Rădulescu, Teissier)
  • 11:00-11:30 CET: Coffee Break
  • 11:30-14:00 CET: Visit of the Jewish Museum of Brussels
  • 15:00-18:00 CET: Workshop Creative Writing (Blioumi, Merkel, Miglio, Teissier)

Friday, 17 May 2024:

  • 09:00-09:30 CET: Exchange of ideas
  • 09:30-11:00 CET: Keynote by Myriam Geiser, chair: Rădulescu
  • 11:00-11:30 CET: Coffee Break
  • 11:30-13:00 CET: Presentation of the results from the creative writing workshop (Blioumi, Merkel, Miglio, Teissier)
  • 13:00-14:00 CET: Conclusion and discussion (Mitterbauer, Blioumi, Colin, Karakassi, Kimmich, Leucht, Merkel, Michler, Miglio, Rădulescu, Teissier)

Virtual part

The online courses will take place between 13 February - 30 Apryl, as following: 

  • 13.02.2024, 18:00-20:00 CET: Einführung/ Grundlagen zur europäischen Migrationsliteratur (Kollektiv/ Aglaia Blioumi, NKUA)
  • 14.02.2024, 18:00-20:00 CET: Social Event – CIVIS Social Lab
  • 20.02.2024, 18:00-20:00 CET: Kultursemiotik: Grenzen, Eingrenzen, Ausgrenzen (Katerina Karakassi, NKUA)
  • 27.02.2024, 18:00-20:00 CET: Repräsentation von afrikanischen MigrantInnen in Texten deutscher AutorInnen (Maxi ObexerJenny Erpenbeck, Daniel Zipfel; Helga Mitterbauer & Joan Mwangovya, ULB)
  • 05.03.2024, 18:00-20:00 CET: Die Bundesrepublik als Ort des Exils: DDR Autoren nach ihrer  Übersiedlung (Catherine Teissier, AMU)
  • 12.03.2024, 18:00-20:00 CET: Sprache und Schreiben im Exil seit 1933 (Caroline Merkel, SU; Dorothee Kimmich, UT)
  • 19.03.2024, 18:00-20:00 CET: Zwischen Deutschland und Afrika: Marseille als Exilort (Nicole Colin, AMU)
  • 09.04.2024, 18:00-20:00 CET: Die Schweiz in den Worten der Anderen: Zürich als Exilort bei Alfred Döblin, Robert Musil und James Joyce (Robert Leucht, UNIL)
  • 16.04.2024, 18:00-20:00 CET: Exil in der Lyrik Paul Celans (Camilla Miglio, SUR)
  • 23.04.2024, 18:00-20:00 CET: Stefan Zweig und das Exil (Werner Michler, PLUS)
  • 30.04.2024, 18:00-20:00 CET: Afrika- und Mittelmeerraumdiskurse in den Werken kanonischer deutsch- sprachiger Autor_innen aus dem 19. Jh. - aus postkolonialer Sicht (Raluca Rădulescu, UB)

*The meetings of the research groups will be scheduled after the groups formation.


This blended mobility course is open to Bachelor's (3rd year) and Master students at the CIVIS member universities  enrolled in German and Comparative literature or related program.

The course will be taught in “multilingual” German, therefore a B2 level of German is required. The instructors will use code-switching whenever necessary, as the course deals with literary texts written in languages beyond German, and as it reflects national differences in terminology and theoretical/ cultural approaches.

Therefore, participants should have a good level of written and spoken German (B2 level), knowledge in text analysis and interest in questions of Migration, Exile, and Refugees. 

NB: Visiting Students - Erasmus Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for your selected CIVIS programme, you must be a fully enrolled student at your CIVIS home university at the time you will be undertaking the programme. Click here to learn more about the eligibility criteria.

Students from CIVIS’ strategic partner universities in Africa cannot apply for participation in this course..

Application process

Send your application by filling in the online application form by 7 November 2023. Don't forget to also include:

  • CV

  • Motivation Letter

  • Proof of the German skills (if not enrolled in a Master's programme in German Studies)

All applications will be evaluatedd based on:

  • German Skills
  • BA in Literary Studies
  • Experience in the analysis of literary texts
  • Interest in the topic
  • Openness to other civilizations
  • Willingness to cooperate with peers from other countries

Apply now


In order to successfully complete the course, students must achieve the following: 

- participation in the online lectures,

- participation in the students' project,

- participation in the workshop,

- individual paper.

The assessment is based on the following scheme:

- participation in all online lectures and in the workshop: 25%

- preparation and presentation of a project in groups of 3 to 4 studentsfrom different universities: 25%

- 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. From 1990 to 1995, she studied German literature at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and at the Free University of Berlin. In 2001, she got her doctorate (summa cum laudae) 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 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 held numerous presentations in Greek at international conferences and magazines articles.

Nicole Colin is Professor of German culture at Aix-Marseille University, Director of the German-Frenchgraduate 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 literatureand 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).

Katerina Karakassi holds the position of Associate Professor of German and Comparative Literature in the Department of German Literature of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. 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 National and Kapodistrian University of Athens since 2005, and since 2006, she teaches “History of European Literature” as ascientific collaborator at the Open University of Greece. She was Humboldt Research Fellow at the University of Konstanz (Germany) 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 ofthe Master - Programme German Philology. Theory and Applications.

Dorothee Kimmich is a Professor of German Literature at University of 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 of 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).

Robert Leucht is full professor (professeur ordinaire) of German at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. His research focuses on exile studies, utopian studies, as well as 20th century German language literature from a transnational perspective. He also works on the relation between literature and technology.     

  • Leucht is the author of three monographs: Experiment und Erinnerung. Der Schriftsteller Walter Abish (Böhlau 2006), Dynamiken politischer Imagination. Die deutschsprachige Utopie von Stifter bis Döblin in ihren internationalen Kontexten, 1848–1930 (De Gruyter 2016), and most recently Der Ingenieur. Grammatik eines Hoffnungsträgers (Zürich 2021), as well as numerous articles and book chapters. His most recent research project is titled Switzerland as a Hub of International Literature. A History of Publishing in Switzerland in the Age of Extremes, 1914-1991 and concerns the role Swiss publishers of the 20th century played in innovating and advancing the global circulation of international literature.

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 University of Tübingen, with a thesis on the suburbs in contemporary German and Swedish literature. Her current research interests include multilingualismand cultural theory in Swedish exile, as well as spatiality and the city in modern German literature.

Werner Michler, Professor of Modern German Literature at the Paris Lodron University of Salzburg (2013 – present). Born in 1967 in Vienna, Austria, he studied German Philology and Philosophy at the University of Vienna, Dr. phil. 1997, habilitation 2012. Teaching and research at the universities of Vienna, Oxford, Münster, Berlin. President of the Austrian Society for German Studies (ÖGG), 1997–2020. Research areas: history and theory of literary genres, German and Austrian Literature 18th -20th century, literature and science, history and theory of translation, literary education.

  • Publications include: Darwinismus und Literatur. Naturwissenschaftliche und literarische Intelligenz in Österreich, 1859–1914 (Wien, Köln, Weimar: Böhlau 1999); Kulturen der Gattung: Poetik im Kontext, 1750–1950 (Göttingen: Wallstein 2015); Gattungstheorie(co-edited) (Berlin: Suhrkamp 2020), Genie in der Nachromantik (German Life and Letters 75-3/2022, special issue, co-edited).

Camilla Miglio, Full Professor of German Literature at Sapienza Università di Roma. 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 delmorso. L’Italia ctonia di Ingeborg Bachmann, 2012). She is also translating German literature of Romanticism and the 20th century into Italian.

Helga Mitterbauer is a Full Professor and 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 from 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.

  • you can see her publications here 

Joan Mwangovya is working at the Université libre de Bruxelles on her PhD thesis “The Portrayal of African Migrants in German Speaking Literature“. She has been teaching at Karatina University, Nairobi/ Kenya, and at the Goethe Institute in Kigali/ Ruanda. She has given several papers at universities in African countries, Germany and Belgium.

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 Foundationin Trier and Flensburg with a project on colonial sea voyages in German-language literature of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Catherine Teissier, Dr. Phil, Associate Professor in German Studies (regional studies, language and history) at the Aix-Marseille Université. 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 (https://caer.univ- She works in the Creative Europe project “History boards” on the representation of the Years of Lead in comics (Germany-Italy):