Recent Faculty Publications

November 1, 2012
Jacobson, David C., Beyond Political Messianism: The Poetry of Second-Generation Religious Zionist Settlers

In recent decades, a group of second-generation religious Zionist West Bank settlers have turned away from the collectivist political messianic ideology of the first generation of settlers and have begun to explore poetry as a mode of individual self-expression. Based on interviews of eight key figures in this new trend and an analysis of their poetry, Beyond Political Messianism: The Poetry of SecondGeneration Religious Zionist Settlers tells the story of how they revolutionized the religious Zionist settler culture by moving poetry into the mainstream of that culture and how they introduced into the world of secular Israeli literature images and language drawn from their lives as religiously observant Jews. Among the themes central to these poets’ concerns are: the formation of a religious identity based on faith and ritual observance, the relationship of the contemporary Jew to the Bible and to traditional Jewish texts, appropriate ways to write about erotic experiences, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Kraemer, Ross S., Unreliable Witnesses: Religion, Gender and History in the GrecoRoman Mediterranean

Kraemer analyzes how gender provides the historically obfuscating substructure of diverse texts: Livy's account of the origins of the Roman Bacchanalia; Philo of Alexandria's envisioning of idealized, masculinized women philosophers; rabbinic debates about women studying Torah; Justin Martyr's depiction of an elite Roman matron who adopts chaste Christian philosophical discipline; the similar representation of Paul's fictive disciple, Thecla, in the anonymous Acts of (Paul and) Thecla; Severus of Minorca's depiction of Jewish women as the last hold-outs against Christian pressures to convert, and others. Extending her findings beyond the ancient Mediterranean, Kraemer proposes that more generally, religion is among the many human social practices that are both gendered and gendering, constructing and inscribing gender on human beings and on human actions and ideas. Her study thus poses significant questions about the relationships between religions and gender in the modern world. 

Mandel, Maud S., In the Aftermath of Genocide: Armenians and Jews in 20th Century France

France is the only Western European nation home to substantial numbers of survivors of the World War I and World War II genocides. In the Aftermath of Genocide offers a unique comparison of the country’s Armenian and Jewish survivor communities. By demonstrating how—in spite of significant differences between these two populations—striking similarities emerge in the ways each responded to genocide, Maud S. Mandel illuminates the impact of the nation-state on ethnic and religious minorities in twentieth-century Europe and provides a valuable theoretical framework for considering issues of transnational identity. Investigating each community’s response to its violent past, Mandel reflects on how shifts in ethnic, religious, and national affiliations were influenced by that group’s recent history. The book examines these issues in the context of France’s long commitment to a politics of integration and homogenization—a politics geared toward the establishment of equal rights and legal status for all citizens, but not toward the accommodation of cultural diversity. 

Olyan, Saul M., Social Inequality in the World of the Text: The Significance of Ritual and Social Distinctions in the Hebrew Bible

This volume consists of fifteen of the author’s essays, including two that have never been published before. The essays date to the last decade and a half, and all reflect in some manner the author’s ongoing interest in literary operations of classification and their social implications, particularly the production of distinctions which create social inequality in the world of the text, and have the potential to generate hierarchical social relationships in contexts where biblical texts might have had an impact on real people. In these essays, the author explores themes such as gender, sexuality, purity and pollution, sanctification, death and afterlife, foreignness, and disability with particular attention to the roles distinctions such as honored/shamed, feminine/masculine, mourning/rejoicing, unclean/clean, alien/native play in creating and perpetuating social differences in texts. Rites of status change such as circumcision, shaving, purification, burial or disinterment, sanctification and profanation of holiness are a focus of interest in a number of these essays, reflecting the author’s ongoing interest in the textual representation of ritual. Most of the essays examine texts in their historical setting, but several also engage the early history of the interpretation of biblical texts, including the phenomenon of inner biblical exegesis. The essays are divided into five sections: Rites and Social Status; Gender and Sexuality; Disability; Holiness, Purity, the Alien; Death, Burial, Afterlife and their Metaphorical Uses. The author introduces each of the sections, contextualizing each essay in his larger scholarly project, reflecting on its development and reception and, in some cases, responding to his critics.