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Displacement: The Literature of Forced Migration

In this reading series, we will explore works by key contemporary authors about forced migration and discuss diverse representations of refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants. According to the United Nations, more than seventy million people are currently displaced worldwide due to war, persecution, and conflict. At the same time, we have witnessed the global rise of nationalist and xenophobic discourses that dehumanize and reject displaced populations. In the United States, we have seen dramatic changes in our policies affecting refugees and asylum-seekers in the past few years, with the rollback of asylum protections and the considerable lowering of the number of refugees to be admitted for resettlement.

Contemporary literary authors have challenged these stereotypes by providing more complex and empathetic depictions of forced migration journeys. We will read three highly acclaimed contemporary texts:

  1. April 18 - NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names (2013)
  2. May 16 - Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West (2017)
  3. June 20 - Valeria Luiselli’s Tell Me How it Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions (2017)

These texts will offer us an opportunity to imagine better, more inclusive futures. We will engage in close readings and discussions of our primary texts and articulate them to current debates, focusing on understanding the complex historical, social, and political conditions that produce the movement of populations across borders.

Instructor: Alexandra Magearu is a writer, editor, and literary scholar. She was born in Romania and she is currently based in Cleveland, Ohio. Her writing has been published in The Comparatist and two philosophy book collections, Ecosophical Aesthetics: Art, Ethics and Ecology with Guattari and Phenomenology of the Broken Body. She was awarded the Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women's Studies for her literary scholarship. 


ONLINE CLASS INFO: Literature and community are powerful tonics in anxious times, providing comfort and inspiration. That’s why Lit Cleveland is staying open with online learning so you can continue to be active, be creative, and engage with other writers and readers in a meaningful way.   

This class will meet online once a month using ZOOM video conferencing. On the first day of class, we will give you a tutorial on how to use it. Once you sign on using the instructions we will provide, you will be able to see and talk with your instructor and your fellow participants—just like you would in one of our meeting rooms. All you need is a good internet connection and a computer or smartphone with a webcam. Not sure if your system is compatible? Just click here. Have any questions about online classes? Email or call associate director Matt Weinkam at


Details: Displacement: The Literature of Forced Migration with Alexandra Magearu takes place Saturdays, April 18, May 16, and June 20 from 1-3pm.

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