Skip to content

Refugees, Migrants, and Exiles in German and Comparative Literature

Learn more about representations of refugees, migrants and exiles in the past and today

← Back to courses
CIVIS focus area
Society, culture, heritage
Open to
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
Field of studies
  • Social Science and humanities
  • CIVIS Hub 2
Course dates
February - May 2022

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).

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, to demonstrate their ability to bridge theory and practice.

Dates: February-May 2022 Format: Blended*
Location: Brussels, Belgium ECTS: 7,5*
Language: Multilingual German N° of CIVIS scholarships offered: 14

*The course will be taught in a hybrid format: 10 online lectures will be followed by a 4-day workshop (May 16-19, 2022) bringing the students and instructors together in person in Brussels, Belgium.

*If a student needs more than the 7,5 ECTS for his/her programme, he/she can obtain those for an additional task to be discussed with the professors

Parallel to the lectures, groups of 3-4 students will realise their own research projects under the supervision of the professors participating in the course. 


This blended mobility course is open to Bachelor's (3rd year) and Master students at the nine 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.

Application process

Applicants should send their CV and a letter of motivation (maximum 500 words) by 15 November 2021 to

Selected students will be notified on 6 December 2021. 

Selected CIVIS students (except students from Université libre de Bruxelles) will be supported by a grant, please contact your university for any information.


Participating students will be assessed based on the following criteria:

  • Participation in the online lectures and in the workshop (20%)
  • Preparation and presentation of a research project in groups of 3-4 students (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%)

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.

Marisol Benito Rey

Marisol Benito Rey is PhD in Modern Languages, Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages Logic and Philosophy of Science, Theory of Literature and Comparative Literature at the Autónoma University of Madrid. She is the coordinator of the German teachers’ training programs at the Official Association of Holders of Doctoral and Bachelor’s Degrees in Philosophy, Letters, and Sciences of Madrid. Her research has been focused on German as a Foreign Language, applied Linguistics, Interculturality, Sign Languages, Lipreading, and Functional Diversity. She is currently working on Discourse and Minorities. She is a member of the Wor(l)ds Lab research group. She is also a Project Evaluator of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) since 2017. 

Aglaia Blioumi 

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 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

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

Nicole Colin is a Professor of German culture at Aix-Marseille University (AMU), Director of the German-French graduate school “Conflicts of cultures – cultures of conflicts” (AMU/ University of Tübingen) and an Honorary 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

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 a literary language in Sweden.

Katerina Karakassi 

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

Dorothee Kimmich is a Professor of German Literature at Tübingen University 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 

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 Tübingen University 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. 

Helga Mitterbauer

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 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 Secretary 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: see her list of publications.

Raluca Rădulescu

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. Click here to see her list of publications.

Ana Ruiz

Ana Ruiz obtained a European PhD in German Philology. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics, Modern Languages, Logic and Philosophy of Science, Theory of Literature and Comparative Literature at the Autonomous University of Madrid. She was Director of the Spanish Courses for Foreigners of the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo and Co-director of the international research group on Intercultural Literature in Europe (2003-2015). He has been a Senior Researcher at the Wor(l)ds Lab Humanities Laboratory since 2015 and Coordinator of the civic initiative Pacto de Convivencia. Dr. Ruiz works in German, Spanish and English, i.a. as co-author Interkulturelle Litertur in Deutschland und bewegte Sprache: Vom ‚Gastarbeiterdeutsch‘ zum interkulturellen Schreiben.

Catherine Teissier

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) ( Click here to see her list of publications.