HENKE1904U English - Free topic 4: The Figure of the Stranger and the Notion of Home in Text and Theory

Volume 2019/2020

The Figure of the Stranger in Theory and Text(Ulla Rahbek)

Who is the stranger? What is a stranger? How does society deal with those figures labelled strangers? Is the stranger ‘the other’ or the ‘unknown’, is s/he just passing through or here to stay? In this class we will discuss such general questions from both theoretical and literary perspectives. The figure of the stranger will be theorised through detailed readings of work by Georg Simmel, Zygmunt Bauman, and Sara Ahmed. We will also consider how notions of strangeness can be transcended by engaging in cosmopolitan ideas. All this “stranger theory” will be read in tandem with a selection of generically different texts – short stories, novels and film – including work by Joseph Conrad, Rachel Seiffert, Caryl Phillips, David Malouf and Linda Grant.


Where is Home: On Migration, Displacement, and the Idea of Return (Eva Rask Knudsen)

Home is usually associated with a specific and singular location, a grounded dwelling place that provides comfort, safety, and familiarity vis-a-vis an outside that is potentially far less stable. Within the contexts of migration and displacement, however, the concept of home in unhinged from such a readymade meaning. What does home mean to those who travel, migrate or are internally displaced within their nations, what is at stake when home is under siege or located ‘elsewhere’ or in multiple locations? If home is a multidimensional and plural term, what does home mean in the context of global mobility and transcultural itineracies? If home is not grounded in a specific place, what is it then? A feeling, a practice, or a way of being in the world? And how does this all impinge on the well-known migrant dream of ‘returning home’ one day? We will discuss such questions with reference to a selection of literary narratives that span from the colonial and postcolonial eras to the current global age and we will be concerned with relevant theoretical and critical texts on the conundrum of home and belonging in the context of migration and displacement.

The two courses of the module have shared opening and closing texts, to be studied from the specific perspectives of each course. Final readings will be available by August 2019 on Absalon.


The Figure of the Stranger in Theory and Text

Preliminary reading list:

Joseph Conrad, ‘Amy Foster’ (1901):


Georg Simmel, ‘The Stranger’(1908):


David Malouf, An Imaginary Life (1978)

Rachel Seiffert, ‘The Crossing’ (2004)

Caryl Phillips, In the Falling Snow (2000)

Linda Grant, A Stranger City (2019)

Film: London River (2009)


Where is Home: On Migration, Displacement, and the Idea of Return

Preliminary reading list:

Joseph Conrad, ‘Amy Foster’ (1901):


David Malouf, Babylon Revisited (1993)

Amitav Ghosh, The Shadow Lines (1988)

Taiye Selasi, Ghana Must Go (2013)

J.J.Bola, No Place to Call Home (2018)

Linda Grant, A Stranger City (2019)

A selection of theoretical and critical texts will be uploaded to ABSALON.  

Classes, with particular emphasis on reading primary and secondary texts, oral discussion and developing proficiency in English.
This course only leads to exams Free Topic 1, Free Topic 2 and Free Topic 3.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 56
  • Preparation
  • 353,5
  • Total
  • 409,5
Type of assessment
Portfolio, A joint portfolio uploaded in digital exam: Deadline January 8th 2020
First: 2 essays (5-6 pp. 12 pt. 1 ½ sp.) during the first part of the module, one for each part of the module (each counting 25 % of the final grade).
Then: student conference at the end of the module, combining both courses (counts 50 % of the final grade).
Criteria for exam assesment