Jonathan Hsy’s rich post on Medievalists and the Global Refugee Crisis has me thinking. The poetics of exile and migrancy overflow premodern literary culture. What are Odysseus and Aeneas but violently displaced migrants who eventually make it to old or new homes?
[updated with thanks to Karl Steel and Justin Kolb]
No time before class this morning to elaborate on the refugee experience in premodern literature — except perhaps to gesture toward a future syllabus, not for this semester, but perhaps for spring 2016:
- “The Wanderer” and “The Seafarer”
Caroline Bergvall’s Drift (which combines bits of the Seafarer with the story of the Left-to-Die boat full of Algerian refugees in 2011)
The Man of Law’s Tale (with Jonathan’s book and the 2003 BBC adaptation!)
Pericles (conveniently playing at Theater for a New Audience in winter 2016)
As You Like It
6. Paradise Lost
7. Poetry of exile: Mary Sidney’s Psalms, Amelia Lanyer, Marvell, Donne
8. [if early modern] A Christian Turned Turk, The Renegado, Coryate’s walk to India
9. [if Shakespeare} Othello and Leo Africanus; Eliz I’s letter expelling the “moors”
10. [if larger timespan] Candide / Oroonooko / Robinson Crusoe / Equiano
Depending on whether it’s a Shakespeare class or a more general / multiperiod class there could be much more — the opening books of the Aeneid or wandering sections of the Odyssey, Timon of Athens, Nashe’s Unfortunate Traveler, etc. I’d introduce the class with some hard-to-watch materials from this past week’s news. Possible also Derrida’s Of Hospitality or this great post from Teju Cole that uses The Gift of Death to think about our duty to displaced people.
Now, back to my already planned course on Shakespeare and Empire! Today’s the epic/counter-epic teaser, via Marlowe’s Dido, Queen of Carthage and David Hadbawnik’s translation of the Aeneid.