Spring 2022 - WL 304 D100

Exile and Migration (4)

Class Number: 7893

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 2:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    AQ 5050, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units.



Explores the culture of peoples and individuals displaced by force or migrating by choice. May focus on the literary cultures of exiles and emigres or on the depiction of refugees, immigrants or exiles. Breadth-Humanities.


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Crossing Borders in the 21st Century

Through contemporary novels and films, we explore the multifaceted representations of the immigrant experience, and, in particular, the act of crossing borders. Borders are often arbitrarily drawn and redrawn throughout history; sometimes, they are clearly marked and militarized, while other times, they are invisible.

We will question this arbitrariness of borders and the devastation it causes for those living on the wrong side of the border. What happens when people inhabit borderlands, such as asylum centres, or areas where a shared culture straddles an official border and people on either side of the border have more in common with each other than with their respective country’s capital city? Sometimes, even after having crossed a border years earlier, people continue to live with a sense of the border inside—a feeling of not having fully crossed yet, of remaining on the cultural, linguistic, and economic margins of the country in which they made a home. 

In this course on borders and the people who cross them, we will explore a novel on the Spanish-Moroccan border, a non-fiction account of the US-Mexican border, an autobiographical novel on a Dutch asylum center, and a novel on the immigration journey from Vietnam to Canada. We will also view two films, read selected poetry and excerpts from theoretical and philosophical works to further contextualize the fiction. In our engagement with these materials, we pay attention to the question of genre to represent border issues and the people entangled in them: how do poetry, film, fiction, documentary, music, and non-fiction represent these issues?


  • In-class participation 10%
  • Online discussion board contributions 15%
  • Film response paper 15%
  • Midterm exam 20%
  • Group presentation (immigration story and immigration organization) 10%
  • Final paper proposal 5%
  • Final paper 25%



Al Galidi, Rodaan. Two Blankets, Three Sheets, a Towel, a Pillow, and a Pillowcase. New York: World Editions, 2020. (164286045X) (‎ 978-1642860450) 

Lalami, Laila. Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin, 2005. (1616207507) (978-1616207502) 

Thúy, Kim. Ru. Toronto: Vintage, 2015. (0345816145) (978-0345816146)

Urrea, Luis Alberto. The Devil’s Highway: A True Story. New York: Back Bay, 2005. (0316010804) (978-0316010801)


Registrar Notes:


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Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

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