ONLINEThe History of Israeli Literature: Hebrew, Halibut and the Pursuit of Happiness

Top Pick January 14, 2021 Free
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(Photo: Fabricio Zuardi/Flickr)

Toward the end of the 20th century, an unprecedented surge of writing altered the Israeli literary scene in profound ways. As fresh creative voices and multiple languages vied for recognition, diversity replaced consensus. Genres once accorded lower status―such as the graphic novel and science fiction―gained readership and positive critical notice. These trends ushered in not only the discovery and recovery of literary works but also a major rethinking of literary history.

In “Since 1948,” scholars consider how recent voices have succeeded older ones and reverberated in concert with them; how linguistic and geographical boundaries have blurred; how genres have shifted; and how canon and competition have shaped Israeli culture. Charting surprising trajectories of a vibrant, challenging and dynamic literature, the contributors analyze texts composed in Hebrew, Yiddish and Arabic; by Jews and non-Jews; and by Israelis abroad as well as writers in Israel. What emerges is a portrait of Israeli literature as neither minor nor regional, but rather as transnational, multilingual and worthy of international attention.

Dr. Nancy Berg is the professor of Hebrew language and literature at Washington University in St. Louis, where she teaches courses in Israeli society, Middle Eastern literatures and Jewish culture. While much of her scholarship focuses on the literature of Iraqi Jews, she has also researched Israeli women’s writing, memory writing and food. Berg has been a fellow at CASA (Center for Arabic Study Abroad), the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Herbert Katz Center for Advanced Jewish Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She previously served as president of the NAPH (National Association of Professors of Hebrew).

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