My research in comparative literature encompasses Hebrew, Arabic, and Anglophone literatures and cultures both separately and in conjunction. I specialize in zones of contact between Arabic and Hebrew, and my work often finds itself at the nexus of literature and history, or of cultural studies and religion. I see historical and theoretical approaches to literary and cultural studies as complementary and mutually informative. I have devoted much of my research to issues in the 19th-21st century intercultural contact of Arabic and Hebrew and issues in Jewish modernity (from the perspectives of literary and intellectual history). My interests include contemporary Hebrew and Arabic writing, film, and popular culture from Israel/Palestine; the intellectual and literary history of Arab and Ottoman Jews in the late nineteenth-century Arab East (Iraq, Greater Syria, and Egypt), particularly their participation in the nahda and the haskala; Jewish literary multilingualism; Jewish literature and/ as world literature; world literature and the problem of comparison; critiques of the Western/ nation-centered model of world literature; translation in both East-West and South-South contexts; comparative Middle Eastern literatures; the revision of modern Hebrew literary history (Haskala to present); Anglophone Middle Eastern and South Asian fiction; the broader comparative history of modern non-Western "renaissance" and "enlightenment" movements, particularly in relation to the theorization of literary modernity and global modernism; temporalities of Israel/Palestine; passing, doubling, and the split self in cultures of the U.S. and Israel/Palestine; and questions of comparison and asymmetry, particularly in relation to literature and asymmetric warfare. Throughout these myriad pursuits, I am particularly fascinated by questions of comparison, historicism, linguistic representation, literary multilingualism and the politics of transnational and (cross)cultural circulation.
My award-winning book Poetic Trespass examines multilingualism, translation, and the cultural politics of language in the literature, art, and cinema of Israel/Palestine from the early 20th century to 2010. With Allison Schachter, I co-edited a special issue of Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History on Jewish literature and World Literature (fall 2017). I am currently completing my second book, The Jewish Nahda, an intellectual history of Arab Jews from 1863-1948. My third book, Global Haskalah, will offer a new approach to the Haskalah by exploring the dynamic interaction of Jewish languages (Judeo-Arabic, Ladino, Hebrew, and Yiddish) and routes of cultural circulation, translation, and exchange among Sephardi, Mizrahi, and Ashkenazi communities of the 19th-early 20th c.
I am also in early stages of projects on temporality in contemporary Palestinian and Israeli culture, and on cross-identification (twinning, doubling, passing) in cultural discourse from Palestine and Israel, with an eye to revising dominant paradigms of relationality between the "political" and the "psychological" and the politics of allegory in critical readings of the conflict.
Poetic Trespass: Writing between Hebrew and Arabic in Israel/Palestine (Princeton UP, 2014): http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10389.html
The Jewish Nahda: An Arab-Jewish Intellectual History (provisional title). Under contract with Stanford UP. Expected 2019.
Selected Articles (can be accessed and downloaded here)
“Family Affairs: Complicity, Betrayal, and the Family in Hisham Matar’s In the Country of Men and Nadine Gordimer’s My Son’s Story,” Comparative Literature and Culture 21:3 (2019): https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/clcweb/vol21/iss3/4/
“Before Global Modernism: Comparing Renaissance, Reform, and Rewriting in the Global South,” Modernism/modernity Print Plus (2018): https://modernismmodernity.org/forums/posts/global-modernism
"A Non-Universal Global: On Jewish Writing and World Literature" (co-authored with Allison Schachter), Prooftexts 36: 1-2 (2017), 1-26.
"The Arab Jew Debates: Media, Culture, Politics, History," Journal of Levantine Studies 17:1 (Summer 2017), 79-103.
"Jewish Literature/ World Literature: Between the Local and the Transnational" (co-authored with Allison Schachter), PMLA 130:1 (January 2015), 92–109.
“The Nahda and the Haskala: A Comparative Reading of ‘Revival’ and ‘Reform,’” Middle Eastern Literatures 16:3 (Winter 2013), 300-316.
“Nation, Village, Cave: A Spatial Reading of 1948 in Three Novels of Anton Shammas, Emile Habiby, and Elias Khoury,” Jewish Social Studies 18:3 (Spring/ Summer 2012): 10-26.
"Partitioned Pasts: Arab Jewish Intellectuals and the Case of Esther Azhari Moyal (1873-1948)," The Making of the Arab Intellectual (1880-1960): Empire, Public Sphere, and the Colonial Coordinates of Selfhood, ed. Dyala Hamzah (Routledge, 2012).
“Who is an Arab Jew? A Comparative Inquiry into the Origins of the Question, 1880-2008,” Teorya u-vikoret (Theory and Criticism) 38-39 (Winter 2011), 101-135 (in Hebrew).
"Reorienting Hebrew Literary History: The View from the East," Prooftexts 29:2 (2010), 127-172.
"Historicizing the Concept of Arab Jews in the Mashriq," Jewish Quarterly Review 98:4 (Fall 2008), 452-469.
"Self and the City: Literary Representations of Jewish Baghdad," Prooftexts 26 (2006): 163-211.