COMPLIT 490 - Comparative Cultural Studies
Section: 001 Nowhere People: Exiles from the State of Ideology
Term: WN 2008
Subject: Comparative Literature (COMPLIT)
Department: LSA Comparative Literature
Requirements & Distribution:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Junior standing.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:

‘Exile is the truth,’ claims the narrator of David Albahari’s novel Bait in his struggle to repress his native language, and all the memory and suffering linked to it, and create for himself a new life in the New World.

Resonating with the title of the Sarajevo-born writer Aleksandar Hemon’s award-winning novel Nowhere Man, this course will be an exploration of the subject of homelessness, ideology, memory, and identity in the context of the latest political crisis in what used to be Yugoslavia. Our readings will span a period starting with the 1970s, the period of political liberalization which, however, saw the emerging of a new political crisis that eventually led to the latest wars. We begin with fictional and non-fictional prose by writers whose exile was brought about by the rejection of communist totalitarianism or pro-nationalist ideologies in the 1970s (Borislav Pekić and Danilo Kiš, respectively), followed by contemporary writers who exiled themselves from nationalist ideologies that paralyzed the societies of Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia in the 1990s (Dubravka Ugrešic, Aleksandar Hemon, David Albahari, Miljenko Jergović). From their adopted lands these writers keep harking back to the situation at ‘home’ both for inspiration but also with sharp criticism, forever deploring their homelessness. What kind of the ‘truth’ is exile, then? And how does the ‘truth’ of the exile measure up to that of the one who never left?

For a truly interdisciplinary approach, these primary readings will be underlined by theoretical works of some of the world’s leading philosophers and political scientists whose validity and applicability to the (post-)Yugoslav situation will be tested in our class discussions (Fredric Jameson, Slavoj Žižek, Homi Bhabha, Michael Foucault, Louis Althusser, Jürgen Habermas, Paul Ricoeur). While the fictional readings on our list record narrative responses to questions of individual remembering, resistance, and identity politics, the theory offers an insight into the substitution of communist totalitarianism with deadly nationalism in, what some of our writers perceive as, a logical transformation of one deadly ideology into the other.

Evaluation will be based on a midterm paper, a final essay, and participation in class.

All readings are available in English.

COMPLIT 490 - Comparative Cultural Studies
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
TuTh 11:30AM - 1:00PM
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