From foundational myths to contemporary world literature, exile has taken on many contradictory guises: as communal punishment, political dissidence, poetic estrangement, or as some philosophers and writers have argued, as the human condition par excellence.
In this course we will discuss the various ethical and aesthetic dimensions of 20th century experience of exile, taking as our primary material the translated novels of Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav authors (Miroslav Krleža, Ivo Andric, Danilo Kiš, David Albahari, Aleksandar Hemon, Dubravka Ugrešic). Moving across the 20th century literary landscape, we will encounter new configurations of exile as a direct response to totalitarian and populist ideologies that have swept the former Yugoslavia and Easter Europe in their recent history. Special attention will be paid to the resurgence of nationalist discourses that lead to the break-up of Yugoslavia, leaving in its wake a new flood of displaced persons, refugees, and exiles. We will address various questions: What are the varieties of exile? Is exile gendered? Is exile a choice or an imposition? If chosen, is it an aesthetic or an ethical commitment? Is there pleasure in exile? Is cosmopolitanism synonymous with exile? Is exile a gesture of political and social protest? How does an exile construct an autobiography? What are the common poetic tropes of exile writing? What is exile’s attitude towards adopted land and homeland? Towards language? And finally, the big one: Can we ever feel at home in the world?