New Article: Mendelson-Maoz, Borders, Territory, and Sovereignty in the Works of Contemporary Israeli Women Writers

Mendelson-Maoz, Adia. “Borders, Territory, and Sovereignty in the Works of Contemporary Israeli Women Writers.” Women’s Studies 43.6 (2014): 788-822.






The works of both Matalon and Govrin offer an unusual aesthetic, ethical, and female option, in regard to the questions of territory and sovereignty. In choosing the rhizome model, in which nomads create open spaces, throw bridges over borders, and enable flexibility in the subject’s never-ending becoming, both authors provide a revolutionary angle on representations of the Israeli society, the Occupation and the Intifada in Israeli literature. Because of the revolutionary nature of their gaze, and its implication, which threaten the core of political and gendered power, this option is doomed to failure. And so alongside the radical option, these works also propose a realistic view that portrays how the female and ethical alternative is crushed and threatened with violence. Ultimately, the release of sovereignty and possession cannot succeed in a place where men thirst for war, a place where weapons persist on assaulting Jerusalem again and again, rather than leave it fallow.






Dissertation: Levinson, The End of the Founding Zionist Dream

Levinson, Rose L. The End of the Founding Zionist Dream: Reflections in Contemporary Israeli Fiction. Cincinnati: Union Institute and University, 2009.



This dissertation explores dilemmas of contemporary Israeli culture through the work of four Israeli novelists: Yoram Kaniuk, Orley Castel-Bloom, Michal Govrin and Zeruya Shalev. The focus is on how these artists provide insight into vexing political, communal and individual situations in Israeli society. Using literature as cultural artifacts through which Israeli life is revealed, the research focuses on key aspects in which modern-day Israel is radically different from the state envisioned by its founding pioneers just over sixty years ago. The eight novels of the study–two by each author–are the basis for considering such issues as the role of religion and biblical text in contemporary Israeli life, particularly as they impact women; the nature of Israeli domestic life as it reflects larger issues of social unrest; the ongoing influence of the Holocaust in determining political and personal responses to perceived danger; and the use of satire as a means of examining dysfunction in Israeli institutions. The fictive worlds of the novels reveal a society deeply fragmented, one in which once familiar structures are breaking apart under the stresses and confusion of newly emerging challenges.

Autoethnography is included in the methodology. The inclusion of an autobiographical element draws attention to the impact Israeli issues have on a non-Israeli Jew for whom this country remains a strong embodiment of core aspects of Jewish identity. This Cultural Study of Jewish Israel links questions of Israeli Jewish identity to issues of Jewish identity in general. The autobiographical elements are used as a bridge between the novelists’ insights and the preoccupations of individuals seeking to grapple with perplexities around identity by studying Israeli cultural maladies through its storytellers.

Cite: Keren, Appropriation of the Hegemonic Bookcase as a Cultural Rite of Passage

Keren, Nitza. “Appropriation of the Hegemonic Bookcase as a Cultural Rite of Passage and Right of Admission into the Israeli Poetry Club.” Nashim 22 (2011): 56-87.






This essay discusses the poetical works of three Israeli women writers: Rebecca Rass, Ronit Yochel Hittin and Michal Govrin. All three master the "Father Language" and patriarchal cultural assets, thus defying hegemonic traditional assumptions about women and writing as defined by modern Hebrew literature’s founding fathers. In the spirit of Patricia Yaeger’s description of the "emancipatory strategies" used by women writers for whom language is a source of power and pleasure, and inspired by Alicia Ostriker’s characterization of women poets as "the thieves of language" engaging in "revisionist mythmaking," this discussion will demonstrate Rass’s, Yochel Hittin’s and Govrin’s skilful use of language and intertextuality. Rebecca Rass recasts the rebirth myth that shapes T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland and repositions it in the local Land of Flowering Bones, charging the ancient myth with present-day Israeli overtones. Eliot’s wanderings across the territories of language inspire Michal Govrin in her Chronicle of Exegesis of the heavy Jewish bookcase. Likewise, Ronit Yochel Hittin sets the ancient myth of the Phoenix rising from its ashes in the context of Jewish history, thus sharpening its existential significance.