A Cultural History of Palestine/Israel

In this course we will discuss the multifaceted cultural exchanges that have taken place between individuals and groups in Palestine/Israel from the 1880s to the present. We will consider how the different phases of this historical process have found their expression in literature, arts and crafts, film, video, photography, the media, and visual culture, on both sides of the Jewish-Palestinian divide. The historical phases to be discussed are:
·         1882-1929 – Pioneering Utopia on the frontier.
·         1929-1947 – Crystallization of the Jewish-Palestinian conflict.
·         1947-1949 – Independence and displacement.
·         1950-1966 – State and nation building in Israel.
·         1967 –          The frontier reopens – dystopia?
·         1968-1984 – Trouble in Utopia.         
·         1985-2000 – Economic privatization and cultural liberalization.
·         2000 –          The re-ascendance of religion; diminution of nations.
Fields – history, archeology, visual culture, ideology, media, art, literature, film.
Conceptual Index – utopia/dystopia, orientalism, colonialism, feminism, nationalism, tradition/modernity, religion, desire, technology, visual culture, post-modernism, militarism, individualism, collectivism, nation building, borders, place-no place, diaspora, activist/political/digital art, interventions.
Format – Lecture, discussion, presentations, screening of visual material.
Readings (TBA)
About 20-40 pages a week. All reading material, except for the books for purchase, will be available on Collab.
Visual materials to be viewed at students’ convenience.
Three short papers, 3-5 pages each during the semester.
Final term paper – 10-15 pages.
Active participation in class discussion – 20%
Short papers – 15% each.
Final term paper – 35%
Books to Purchase
Rashid Khalidi, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness, Columbia University Press, 2011.
ISBN 0-231-10515-0
Nicholas Mirzoeff, The Visual Culture Reader, 3rd Edition, Routledge, 2013.
ISBN-13: 978-0415782623
ISBN-10: 041578262
Boaz Neumann, Land and Desire in Early Zionism, Brandeis University Press, 2011.
ISBN 978-1-58465-968-6
Gerhson Shafir and Yoav Peled, Being Israeli: The Dynamics of Multiple Citizenship, Cambridge University Press, 2002.
ISBN 9780521796729

Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
Department Contacts