Ilana Szobel
Mandel 313
(781) 736-5230

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Brandeis University
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Ilana Szobel


Ilana Szobel

Ilana Szobel is Assistant Professor of Modern Hebrew Literature on the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Chair. She received her doctorate in January 2008 from the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. Her dissertation won the 2007 Ben Halpern Award for Best Dissertation from the Association for Israel Studies. Her scholarly interests encompass a broad range of issues regarding identity with a particular sensitivity to cultural, political, and social processes of inclusion and exclusion. In her teaching, she underlines challenges posed by feminism, war and peace, the Holocaust, family structure, economic and cultural dislocation as compelling entry points for students to engage Israeli society and culture. She reaches into personal and collective traumatic experiences which have left an indelible mark on Israeli culture as a way to open up and recast Israel’s conflicted history. She adroitly draws upon an impressive variety of conceptual paradigms: psychoanalytic and feminist theories of trauma, witness theory, memory studies, and film theories.

All of these tools are brought to bear in her manuscript Transparent Skin: Poetics of Estrangement, Politics of Trauma – The Work of Dahlia Ravikovitch  In this she traces the ways in which Ravikovitch (1936-2005) constructs the identity of her characters in a way “which straddles the realm of integration and conformism on the one hand, and that of individuality and distinctiveness on the other.” Her article, “’God of Fury’ and His Victims: the Binding of Isaac (Akedah) in Hebrew Women’s Poetry, 1930-1970,” published in Jerusalem Studies in Hebrew Literature 22 (The Hebrew University Press, 2008, pp. 65-92), focuses on theories of sacrifice and trauma, and draws the connection between modern Hebrew literature, gender, nationalism, and the Bible. Her recent article, “Forever Beholden: Orphanhood in the Work of Dahlia Ravikovitch,” published in Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues 19 (2010), deals with the traumatic event of the death of Ravikovitch’s father. The article explores the effect of this emotional break on Ravikovich’s oeuvre, and singles out a sort of “poetics of orphanhood.”