Slovenian literature in diaspora

This course is part of the programme
Master in Slovene Studies - Literary Science

Objectives and competences

Course aims:

  • A general cultural-historical overview of the literary creativity of Slovenians in the Diaspora. Students with become familiar with this creativity in connection with the historical circumstances and the social positions of emigrant communities in various geographical, social and cultural contexts.

  • Mastering the basic terminology and fundamental concepts that are essential for understanding the psycho-social processes linked with the phenomenon of emigration or with living in the Diaspora, including identity, culture, ethnicity, nation, (linguistic) socialization, migration, assimilation, acculturation, emigration, ethnic minority/community, immigration, Diaspora, cross-border Slovenian-ness, etc.

  • Recognizing the most frequent literary themes that Slovenian emigrant and Diaspora deal with – from general themes that are common to all literatures to specific themes according to which emigrant writers clearly differentiate themselves from the rest of Slovenian literature:

• the struggle for acceptance in new surroundings,
• changes,
• resistance and adaptation,
• questions of freedom and imprisonment,
• questions of belonging and isolation,
• questions of guilt and forgiveness,
• questions of homesickness and longing for the homeland and for that which has been lost.

  • Recognizing the extent of Slovenian literature in the Diaspora and evaluating its quality.

  • Gaining insight into the position of migrant literature and culture in the Slovenian space.

  • Becoming familiar with the issue of emigration from the 19th century to the migration policy of the Republic of Slovenia.


The focus of this course is literary and comparative analysis and interpretation of Slovenian literary works that have been created in the Diaspora. Previous knowledge from literary-theoretical, methodological and literary-historical courses, especially from the areas of Slovenian and world literature is a prerequisite. Also necessary is a solid knowledge of the history and cultural history of Slovenians.


Content (Syllabus outline):

The 15 lectures will cover these thematic areas:

1) Fundamental concepts (emigration, Diaspora, migration…, inter-culturalism, acculturation, language contact) and a brief historical overview (Slovenian emigration by period: pre-World War I, between the wars, after World War II, contemporary) as well as a presentation of the themes (literature in the Americas, in Asia and Africa, in Australia, in Europe).


2) North America: from missionaries and soldiers to amateur and professional creators (F. Baraga, F. Pirc, emigrants based in Mexico, L. Adamič, R. Ložar, E. Gobec...); the specifics of literary creativity in the USA (e.g., M. Šoukal), Canada (e.g., Ted Kramolc, Irma Marinčič Ožbalt, Zdravko Jelinčič and Ivan Dolenc) and Mexico (M. A. Kappus).

3) South America: an overview of creativity in Argentina and elsewhere – societies, institutions, reviews, publishing activity and the most important literary creators (Tine Debeljak, France Papež, Vinko Rode, Tine Debeljak Jr., Jože Vombergar, Zorko Simčič, Marjan Willenpart, Ruda Jurčec, Zorko Simčič, Tone Brulc, Franc Sodja, Stanko Kociper, Mirko Kunčič, Vojko Arko, Andrej Rot, Gregor Papež, Erika Poglajen, Tone Rode, etc.).

4) South America: prose, literary criticism and essays by creators in Argentina and elsewhere.

5) South America: poetry and drama as well as Slovenian theatres in Argentina and elsewhere.

6) South America: the literature of Zorko Simčič.

7) The literature of Slovenians in Australia and their newspaper Misli; a presentation of short fiction. Thematic and stylistic treatment of the writings of Jože Žohar, Daniela Hliš, Pavla Gruden, Cilka Žagar, etc. The work of Bert Pribac.


8) The literary work of missionaries in Asia and Africa; publications in the magazines Katoliški misijoni, Duhovno življenje and Misijonska obzorja. Thematic and stylistic treatment of the literary works of Jože Cukale (India) and Vladimir Kos (Japan).

9) The writings of Slovenian women in Alexandria and their reception in Slovenian literature and culture.


10) An examination of the most important pre-War emigrant writers of literature in Western Europe (Vojeslav Mole, Janko Lavrin, etc.). A thematic and stylistic treatment of literary works by the most important authors who either immediately or later went into the European Diaspora after World War II, such as Vinko Beličič, Martin Jevnikar, Franc Jeza, Vladimir Truhlar, Rafko Vodeb, etc.

11) An examination of the literary work of the modern authors Brina Svit, Ifigenija Zagoričnik and Evgen Bavčar.

12) A presentation of the literary work of post-War emigrant authors in Vienna, the poet Milena Merlak-Detela and Lev Detela.

13) A presentation of the testimonies, memoires and literary images of Slovenians in the area of the former Yugoslavia beyond present-day Slovenia.


14) Ordering Diaspora and emigrant literature within Slovenian literature and culture: the prevailing genres (poetry, prose, drama, travelogues, autobiography, biography, polemical texts, religious didactic texts, popular science works, etc.), the most important thematic and stylistic characteristics.

15) The state and perspectives of emigrant and Diaspora literature; its significance and including it in Slovenian cultural awareness and creativity.

The focus of the course is a literary and comparative analysis and interpretation of Slovenian literary works of the Diaspora. Recognized in the analysis are also literary geography concerns that links literary knowledge and geography into systematic interdisciplinary as well as into the space of Slovenian literary culture ordering that encompasses Slovenian culture in the Diaspora. In the analysis students are made aware of:

  • stylistic, genre and ideological differentiating of literary works;
  • the dynamics of literary culture in the Diaspora and after emigration as it comes into contact with various cultures and nations;
  • the reciprocal influence of Slovenian literature with its discourses, practices and institutions on the conceiving of and structuring of emigrant and Diaspora space as well as its links to the broader region, Europe and the world;
  • the role of memory of places from the time before emigrating (Slovenian places, camps, etc.) as they appear in literature (which places the authors remember particularly, what links them to those places – with love, nostalgia, suffering, violence…).

The literary interpretation considers the historical, literary-historical and cultural-historical context and psychological concerns (trauma, etc.)

Intended learning outcomes

  • Recognizing the most important Diaspora writers and the literary aesthetics of their most important works in various genres (poetry, prose, drama, letters, biography, alpine literature, autobiography, diaries, polemical writings, travelogues, religious didactic texts, youth literature, children’s literature, etc.).
  • Becoming aware of the significance of Slovenian Diaspora literature and its place in modern Slovenian culture (questions of being into the main surveys of Slovenian literary history, questions of presence in Slovenian cultural media and schools).
  • In addition to literary activity, becoming familiar also with other cultural and artistic creativity of authors in the Diaspora and with their place in modern culture, especially in visual art and in theatre.
  • Migration with be dealt with in the context of multiculturalism as well as while uncovering the links and breaches within the common Slovenian cultural space.
  • Becoming aware of the role of the Slovenian language in exile. The problem of being a “child of two homelands,” especially questions of being Slovenian in South America, will be considered.
  • From a psychological-existential perspective they will follow the story of emigrants in their searching for personal happiness. They will come to know the life and works of intellectuals in the Diaspora.
  • They will follow reverse migration between policy, practice and theory.

In the form of reviews and literary interpretations of the content and aesthetics of important works of literature by Slovenian authors in exile, which students will write in the form of seminar papers, they will contribute to the integration of Diaspora studies into the literary-historical treatment of Slovenian and other literatures.



• Avsenik Nabergoj, Irena, Hrepenenje po domovini v poeziji slovenskih avtoric v zdomstvu. V: Dve domovini, št. 21 (2005), str. 125-142.
• Avsenik Nabergoj, Irena, Literarna kritika in esejistika v reviji Meddobje (1954). 1. del. V: Meddobje, Letn. 34, št.1/2. Buenos Aires, 2000, str. 92-157; 2. del. V: Meddobje, Letn. 34, št. 3/4 (2000), str. 236-299; .3. del. V: Meddobje, Letn. 35, št. 1/2. Buenos Aires, 2001, str. 78-103.; 4. del. V: Meddobje, Letn. 35, št. 3/4. Buenos Aires, 2001, str. 219-251.
• Glušič, Helga, Zora Tavčar, Martin Jevnikar, Pod Južnim križem: antologija emigrantske proze 1945-1991. Celje: Mohorjeva družba, 1992.
• Pibernik, France (ur.), Beseda čez ocean: antologija slovenske zdomske poezije. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, 2002 (Knjižnica Kondor ; zv. 304).
• Žitnik Serafin, Janja (gl. ur.) /Helga Glušič (ur.), Slovenska izseljenska književnost. Ljubljana: ZRC : Rokus, 1999 (3 zv.).
• Žitnik Serafin, Janja, Večkulturna Slovenija : položaj migrantske književnosti in kulture v slovenskem prostoru. Ljubljana: ZRC, ZRC SAZU, 2008.
• Literarna dela slovenskih avtoric in avtorjev v eksilu (po vsakoletnem izboru študentov in predavateljice).


• Drnovšek, Marjan, Slovenski izseljenci in Zahodna Evropa v obdobju prve Jugoslavije. Ljubljana : Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU, 2012.
• − − , Izseljevanje, "rakrana" slovenskega naroda : od misijonarja Friderika Barage do migracijske politike države Slovenije. Ljubljana : Nova revija, 2010.
• − − , Ljubljana: križišče na poti v svet: množično izseljevanje Slovencev v Ameriko : razstava. Ljubljana : Inštitut za slovensko izseljenstvo ZRC SAZU: Numizmatično društvo Slovenije, 2006.
• − − : Usodna privlačnost Amerike : pričevanja izseljencev o prvih stikih z novim svetom. Ljubljana: Nova revija, 1998.
• Gantar Godina, Irena (ur.): Soočenje mita in realnosti ob prihodu izseljencev v novo okolje: zbornik referatov s simpozija "Soočenje mita in realnosti ob prihodu izseljencev v novo okolje", Portorož, Slovenija, 18.−19. maja 1995. Ljubljana : Inštitut za izseljenstvo, Znanstvenoraziskovalni center SAZU, 1996.
• Gantar Godina, Irena; Cvetka Puncer; Nives Sulič; Milojka Žalik Huzjan idr.: Intelektualci v diaspori: zbornik referatov simpozija "100. obletnica rojstva Louisa Adamiča - Intelektualci v diaspori". Portorož, Slovenija, 1.−5. septembra 1998. Ljubljana : ZRC SAZU, Inštitut za slovensko izseljenstvo, 1999.
• Gelt, Draga, Liliana Eggleston-Tomažič, Anthology of Slovenian artists and sculptors in Australia = Antologija slovenskih slikarjev in kiparjev v Australiji. Melbourne ; Kew (Victoria) : Slovenian Religious and Cultural Centre Sts Cyril and Methodius, 2010 (Melbourne : Artworx).
• Jurak, Mirko, Irene Mislej, Kulturno ustvarjanje Slovencev v Južni Ameriki: zbornik. Ljubljana : Znanstveni inštitut Filozofske fakultete : Slovenska izseljenska matica, 1995.
• Kalc, Aleksej, Poti in usode: selitvene izkušnje Slovencev z zahodne meje. Koper : Zgodovinsko društvo za južno Primorsko : Znanstveno-raziskovalno središče Republike Slovenije; Trst : Narodna in študijska knjižnica, 2002.
• Koprivec, Daša, Dediščina aleksandrink in spomini njihovih potomcev. Spremna študija Bojan Baskar. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU, 2013.
• − − , Otroci aleksandrink. Ljubljana : samozal. D. Koprivec, 2011.
• Kržišnik-Bukić, Vera, Stane Granda, Andrej Vovko, Anesa Bukić, Slovenci v Bosni in Hercegovini skozi pričevanja, spomine in literarne podobe : 1831-2007. Ljubljana : Inštitut za narodnostna vprašanja, 2007.
• Kuzmič, Mihael, Slovenski izseljenci iz Prekmurja v Bethlehemu v ZDA : 1893-1924 : naselitev in njihove zgodovinske, socialne, politične, literarne in verske dejavnosti / Mihael Kuzmič ; [prevod Mihael Kuzmič in Rebecca Chamberlain]. Ljubljana : Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU, 2001.
• Lukšič Hacin, Marina, idr., Spet doma?: povratne migracije med politiko, prakso in teorijo. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU, 2006.
• − −, Multikulturalizem in migracije. Ljubljana : ZRC SAZU, Založba ZRC, 1999.
• Meden, Ahac, Alja Brglez, Neda Pagon, Vezi in razpoke skupnega slovenskega kulturnega prostora: o rabi kulturnega prostora in družbenega časa. Ljubljana : Inštitut za civilizacijo in kulturo, 2007.
• Mednarodna konferenca Kulturnoumetniška dejavnost izseljencev in njeno mesto v sodobni kulturi - s posebnim poudarkom na slovenskem izseljenstvu, Hotel Špik, Gozd Martuljek, Slovenija, 18.−21. september 2001.
• Mikola, Maša, Živeti med kulturami: od avstralskih Slovencev do slovenskih Avstralcev. Ljubljana : Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU, 2005.
• Pertot, Marjan, Lepa Vida ob Srebrni reki : kulturno in gledališko delo primorskih in drugih zgodnjih priseljencev v Argentini. Trst : Mladika, 2011.
• Pibernik, France, Jutro pozabljenih: antologija padlih, pobitih, prepovedanih, zamolčanih, pozabljenih. Celje: Mohorjeva družba, 1991.
• Repič, Jaka, "Po sledovih korenin" : transnacionalne migracije med Argentino in Evropo. Ljubljana: Oddelek za etnologijo in kulturno antropologijo, Filozofska fakulteta, 2006.
• Štumberger Saška, Slovenščina pri Slovencih v Nemčiji. Ljubljana : Znanstvenoraziskovalni inštitut Filozofske fakultete, 2007
• Švent, Rozina, Matjaž Klemeničič idr.: Slovensko izseljenstvo : zbornik ob 50-letnici Slovenske izseljenske matice. Glavna urednica Milica Trebše-Štolfa, odgovorni urednik Matjaž Klemenčič. Združenje Slovenska izseljenska matica, 2001.
• Švent, Rozina, Slovenski begunci v Avstriji: 1945-1950. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU, 2007 (Migracije/Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU; 13).
• − − , Slovenski begunci v Avstriji: 1945-1950. Ljubljana : Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU, 2007.
• Tavčar, Zora, Slovenci za danes v zdomstvu in emigraciji. Ljubljana : Družina ; Trst : Mladika, 1998.
• Tomšič, Marjan, Južni veter : zgodbe slovenskih Egipčank. Ljubljana : Društvo 2000, 2006.
• Toplak, Kristina, Buenas artes : ustvarjalnost Slovencev in njihovih potomcev v Buenos Airesu. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU, 2008.
• Tremain, Rose, Dolga pot domov: zgodba o izseljencu in njegovem iskanju osebne sreče. Prevedla Ana Pogačar. Tržič: Učila International, 2009.
• Žigon, Zvone, Iz spomina v prihodnost: slovenska politična emigracija v Argentini. Ljubljana : Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU, 2001.
• − − , Izzivi drugačnosti : Slovenci v Afriki in na Arabskem polotoku. Ljubljana : Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU, 2003.
• − − , Otroci dveh domovin: slovenstvo v Južni Ameriki. Ljubljana: Znanstvenoraziskovalni center SAZU, Založba ZRC, 1998 (Ljubljana : Littera picta).
• Žitnik Serafin, Janja, Književnost slovenskih izseljencev. Separat. Ljubljana: Združenje Slovenska izseljenska matica, 2001.
• − − , Louis Adamič in sodobniki: 1948-1951. Ljubljana : Slovenska akademija znanosti in umetnosti, 1992.


Passing an oral or written exam. Successful completion of the seminar paper is the pre-condition for being allowed to write the exam.

Lecturer's references

Dr. Irena Avsenik Nabergoj, a literary historian and professor of art history, is an associate professor of literature at the University of Nova Gorica and a Senior Research Fellow in the field of literary studies at the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts as well as in the field of religious studies and religious anthropology at the University of Ljubljana.

Her research focuses on Slovenian and comparative literature, literary theory, literature and mythology, and literature and other art forms. To date her studies have dealt with: the themes of love and guilt in Slovenian literature; the literature of Slovenian writers of the 19th and 20th centuries, especially Ivan Cankar; representations of reality and truth in literature; the image of Jews in Slovenian Literature, Biblical motifs in modern Slovenian and European literature; essays and literary criticism by Slovenian emigrants as well as poetry of Slovenian Diaspora writers.

In 2009 she received the Zois Award for significant achievements in the field of literary studies.

1. AVSENIK NABERGOJ, Irena, 2005. Ljubezen in krivda Ivana Cankarja. Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, 2005 (zbirka Kultura), 794 strani, ilustr.
2. AVSENIK NABERGOJ, Irena, 2008. Mirror of Reality and Dreams: Stories and Confessions by Ivan Cankar. Frankfurt am Main [etc.]: Peter Lang, 309 strani, ilustr.
3. AVSENIK NABERGOJ, Irena. 2009. Longing, Weakness and Temptation: From Myth to Artistic Creations. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, XII, 321 strani.
4. AVSENIK NABERGOJ, Irena. 2010. Hrepenenje in skušnjava v svetu literature: Motiv Lepe Vide, (Zbirka Kultura). Ljubljana: Mladinska knjiga, 726 strani, ilustr.
5. AVSENIK NABERGOJ, Irena. 2011. Literarne vrste in zvrsti: stari Izrael, grško-rimska antika in Evropa. Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba, 623 strani; 2. del knjige je pripravljen v souredništvu s prof. dr. Dietrom Lampingom, Univerza v Mainzu.
6. AVSENIK NABERGOJ, Irena. 2012. Power of Love and Guilt: Representations of Mother and Woman in the Literature of Ivan Cankar, 463 strani. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang – Inernationaler Verlag der Wissenschften.
7. AVSENIK NABERGOJ, Irena. 2013. Reality and Truth in Literature: From Ancient to Modern European Literary and Critical Discourse, 223 strani. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht unipress.