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Modern Hebrew Literature – Narrating the Nation (2017)

Contributor(s): Ilana Szobel, Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Assistant Professor of Modern Hebrew Literature, Brandeis University
Topics(s): Literature, Society, Zionism and Nationalisms
Date: May 8, 2017

This SIIS faculty syllabus provides an illustrative selection of modern Hebrew literature through which one can better understand Israeli history, society, and culture. The session utilizes a variety of literature, poetry, music, and film as entry points into discussions of major themes in Hebrew literature.


Essential Reading

Hayim Gouri: “Heritage” (  1960)

Genesis 22: 1-19 (The Binding of Isaac)

Joshua 10 (The Battle of Gibeon)

Judges 13 – 16 (Samson)  szobel_-_amichaibed

Yehuda Amichai: “Rain on a Battlefield” (1955); “I Want To Die In My Own Bed” (1958). [Poems in Hebrew]

Yehoram Gaon: “Ballad for the Medic” [YouTube video] Text in Word Doc format

Rivka Zohar: “What Shall I Bless Him?” [YouTube video]

Dalia Ravikovitch: Selection from True Love (1987) and Mother with a Child (1992). Hovering at Low Altitudes [in Hebrew]. (Collection of Political Poems).

Yoram Taharlev: “Ammunition Hill” [YouTube video]. Lyrics.

Nathan Alterman, “About the Child Abram.”


Recommended Reading

Kronfeld, Chana, Nili R. Gold Scharf, and Barbara Mann, “Hovering at a Low Altitude,” Reading Hebrew Literature: Critical Discussions of Six Modern Texts, Ed. Alan Mintz (Hanover: Brandeis UP, 2003)

Anthony D. Smith and John Hutchinson, selection from Nationalism: An Oxford Reader (1994)

Yael Zerubavel“Patriotic Sacrifice and the Burden of Memory in Israeli Secular National Hebrew Culture,”  in Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa, ed. Ussama Makdisi and Paul A. Silverstein (2005)


Recommended Viewing

Movie: Waltz with Bashir (Director: Ari Folman, 2008)