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Border Readings

Borders are fundamental to our dealings with the world. How does literature help us understand borders?

A drawing of a farmer leaning on an invisible fence, with another person with a backpack crossing the fence in the background.

Territories and places have borders. We can experience differences as borders, and what we experience and know is limited by the borders of perception and cognition.

Photo: Drawing by Kari Korolainen

About the group

The research group "Border Readings" brings together literary and other scholars in order to investigate how literature and other art forms help us meet borders, often with the help of textual boundaries and framings.

Borders are constantly in the news, whether it concerns migration, the covid-19 pandemic or Brexit. Together with their variants in the forms of boundaries, limits, frontiers, frames and thresholds, they are also fundamental to our dealings with the world on many different levels.

We can think in terms of borders of national territories, but also of places, houses, bodies and even texts. We can experience differences as borders. As we age we cross the borders between different life stages, and what we experience and know is limited by the borders of perception and cognition.

Research interests

The research group will investigate the following questions:

  • How do readers and authors use literature and narrative to negotiate borders on different scales?
  • How do the narrative and material borders of literary texts work together with borders described in the texts in acts of reading?
  • How does literature and other art forms contribute to imagining new concepts of borders?
  • How does literature address and enact cognition and emotions in response to borders?


At present the group meets regularly to discuss relevant research publications and to comment work in progress by group participants.


Doctoral research fellows

The Border Readings research group's host department, the Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages (ILOS), has announced four PhD fellowships. Among other things, applicants must present a project proposal and argue for its relevance to one of the research groups at ILOS, for example the Border Readings group. For more details, see the vacancy announcement. The deadline is 28 February 2022.

Please note: To be enrolled in a Norwegian PhD programme you must have acquired an announced fellowship or provide proof of alternative financing of a full-time position as research fellow. For more details see Application and Admission PhD.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action postdocs

The research group is interested in hosting Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action postdoc fellows from across the world, and has the capacity to work with together with a limited number of qualified researchers on applications every year. You must send us a 1-page project sketch and a 1-page academic career plan (including your qualifications, where you see yourself in ten years, and a list of areas where a stay at the department would help develop your qualifications) by 1 February, if you wish to be considered for working with us on an application the same year.


Reading the Unkown

In collaboration with Literature, Cognition and Emotions, we bring together border poetics with cognitive approaches to literature to investigate how reading helps us approach different unkowns: the unknowns in ourselves and others, unknown spaces and unknown futures.

Soviet Ellipses

Omissions as Techniques of Border Transgression in Photography, Literature, and Everyday Life (SOVEL). A project carried out by Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellow Dr. Vera Faber.

Temporalities and Subjectivities of Crossing

Temporalities and Subjectivities of Crossing: Contemporary Public Migration Narratives in Europe. A NOS-HS workshop series initiated by the research group “Migration, Borders and Identity”.

Border Poetics Bibliography

A web bibliography of studies and primary material focusing on borders and literature along with other relevant topics, in collaboration with the previous research group “Migration, Borders and Identity”. Go to the Border Poetics Bibliography


Published Dec. 3, 2021 11:00 AM - Last modified Jan. 9, 2022 3:30 PM