Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2021

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Germanic Languages and Literatures

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Whereas the public discourses surrounding refugees encompass notions of legitimacy and proving the need for asylum, potential for an individual to enact violence on the host community or country as well as integration and standards for measuring individual integration, the discourse and language used by the refugee figures themselves focuses on issues of self-representation, loss and various wrongs done to themselves. These fictional and autofictional texts position the refugee figure in light of their identity, their loss(es) and the ways they have endured wrongdoing to their physical persons either through violence and imprisonment or through overly rigorous or disorganized bureaucratic processes. Methodologically I draw eclectically on theories, which explore refugee narratives from postcolonial, discourse, critical race studies and trauma perspectives. This project examines different textual representations of countering dominant discourses as found in four representative texts from Germany which have been selected for their range of refugee experience. The texts discussed are: Abbas Khider's Der falsche Inder (2008), Shida Bazyar's Nachts ist es leise in Teheran (2016), Jenny Erpenbeck'sGehen, ging, gegangen (2015) and Sherko Fatah's Das dunkle Schiff (2008). I focus on the narrative techniques, language and discourses within the texts and argue that they establish a counter-discourse to the dominant discourses surrounding the refugee experience as the refugee figure undermines the assigned roles of victim, opportunist, suspect and citizen in Germany.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Paul Michael Lützeler

Committee Members

Erin McGlothlin, Caroline Kita, Tabea Linhard, André Fischer,