Prof. Naomi Sokoloff Co-directs a Conference on Israeli Literature @70

Submitted by Selim S. Kuru on

On the occasion of Israel at 70, Prof. Naomi Sokoloff (UW) and Prof. Nancy Berg (Washington University) are organizing a conference that aims to summarize, appraise, and re-evaluate the first seventy years of Israeli literature.  In the late twentieth century there emerged a generally accepted historiography and a shared conversation about Israeli writing.  In more recent decades, however, an explosion of creativity has altered the scene. New voices have proliferated since the 1990s, along with multiple new approaches to reading. Diversity has replaced consensus.  Moreover, the consensus of the past is itself up for question and revision. Greater attention to voices from the margins has led to a discovery and recovery of literary works, as well as a rethinking of literary history. At the seventy-year mark, a time that scholars often honor their teachers with a festschrift,  the conference “Enshrining the Book” will take the opportunity to examine Israeli writing, to gain new perspectives through a retrospective, and so to offer a kind of festschrift to a now venerable yet still dynamic and ever-changing  literature.

The conference will take up questions of canon, master narrative, and predominant motifs that are crucial for examining a national literature.  At the same time, it will consider the implications of defining a body of writing as a national literature. Israeli literature in many ways is transnational, multilingual, and worthy of wide attention.  The conference participants -- a distinguished group that includes established and new scholars and writers from both sides of the Atlantic – will discuss texts that were composed in Hebrew and also texts composed in other languages and/or written outside the State of Israel.  Prof. Sokoloff will present a lecture called “‘The pigs were my best friends’: Animals, Alona Frankel’s Memoirs, and the Holocaust in Israeli Literature.”

“Enshrining the Book: Israeli Literature @70” will be held at Washington University in St. Louis, April 12-13, 2018

Enshrining the Book: Israeli Literature at 70



Busch 18, Washington University                                           

3:00-4:30 Session One
  • Welcome
  • Beginning with Alef: Canaanism and Zionism / Yael Dekel
  • Travels from Me and Tali in Llama Country to Yanetz Levi’s Uncle Arieh / Shai Ginsburg

 Coffee break

 4:45-6:00 Session Two
  • Pulp Fiction: The Literariness of the Stalagim / Eric Zakim
  • Farewell to a Declining World: The (alternative) Revolution of the 1960s / Riki Traum-Avidan

 6:30 Dinner



Hurst Lounge, Duncker Hall, Washington University 


9:00-10:15 Session Three

  • Moments of Silence / Eran Tzelgov
  • 'The pigs were my best friends': Animals, Alona Frankel's Memoirs, and the Holocaust in Israeli Literature  / Naomi B. Sokoloff

 Coffee break

 10:30-12:15 Session Four
  • Anthological Poetics: Reading Amichai and Halfi in Liberal Siddurim / Wendy Zierler
  • The Ḥafla in Almog Behar’s Rachel and Ezekiel and Eli Amir’s Iraq Trilogy Mizrachi / Michal Raizen
  • The Encounter between Sea and Sky: Yiddish in Israel / Shachar Pinsker

 12:30-1:15 Lunch   (Busch 18)

 1:30-3:30 Session Five
  • American Hebrew: The Transnational Israeli Novel in the Twenty-first Century/ Melissa Weininger
  • And the Winner Is…: the Economy of Literary Awards/ Nancy E. Berg
  • Round Table Discussion