Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Refuge: Stories on Art and Survival

ENGL 002.401
crosslisted as: COML 002, AFRC 003
MW 2-3:30

“The nomad or immigrant who learns something rightly must always ponder travel and movement, just as the grief-stricken must inevitably ponder death. As does the artist who comes from a culture that is as much about harnessing life—joyous, jubilant, resilient life—as it is about avoiding death.”
Edwidge Danticat, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work

What can we learn about the current migration crisis from literature and film? This course will first introduce students to histories of migration during the 20th and 21st centuries that have emerged from Cameroon, Canada, France, Haiti, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States, among others. Students will then study how these histories shape film and literature as much as how artistic works shape these histories. From studying artistic works by Raoul Peck, Dany Laferrière, Ousmane Sembene, NoViolet Bulawayo and Edouard Duval-Carrie we will approach a few questions. What is it like to lose your home and your homeland? How can we learn from the stories of émigrés, exiles, expatriates, immigrants, migrants and refugees of their search for refuge? How have these experiences of migration been affected by race, gender and class? Finally, how have "immigrant artists," to borrow from Edwidge Danticat, negotiate the zone of comfort or discomfort necessary to create and recreate?
This course is open to students from all majors. No previous knowledge of literary studies or current affairs required. Course evaluations include weekly Canvas posts, oral presentations and creative, individualized projects.