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The Outsider Inside: Ideas of Jewishness in Contemporary Jewish, Postcolonial, and Palestinian Literature

Hesse, Isabelle (2012) The Outsider Inside: Ideas of Jewishness in Contemporary Jewish, Postcolonial, and Palestinian Literature. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

My thesis creates a comparative framework for understanding representations of Jewishness in Jewish, postcolonial, and Palestinian literature in response to particular historical events such as the Holocaust, the creation of the state of Israel, the first intifada, and the siege of Ramallah during the second intifada. Central to my study is the shift from Jewish identity in Europe before the creation of Jewish settlements in Palestine – as a minority identity in the Diaspora, facing discrimination and persecution in Europe, which culminated in the Holocaust – to Jewishness as Israeliness, defined in relation to the state of Israel, Zionism, and settler-colonialism. My study contests ahistorical and decontextualised uses of Jewishness and each chapter proposes a different angle to engage with ideas of Jewishness in their specific historical context. I examine narrative fiction and travelogues, published between 1971 and 2008, by Jurek Becker, Anita Desai, David Grossman, Shulamith Hareven, Edgar Hilsenrath, Sahar Khalifeh, Caryl Phillips, Anton Shammas, Raja Shehadeh, and A. B. Yehoshua. Through these examples, I interrogate the political and stylistic reasons underlying the inclusion and appropriation of ideas of Jewishness in literature. I suggest that literature offers alternative models of Jewishness which question received notions of Jewish victimhood and powerlessness. By determining the ways in which ideas associated with Jewishness travel across different geographical locations and examining adaptations of these concepts in non-Jewish contexts, I illustrate the centrality of ideas of Jewishness in the construction and definition of identities for both Jewish and non-Jewish writers and readers and indicate the global ramifications of engaging with Jewishness for contemporary literature and culture.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.572382
Depositing User: Ms Isabelle Hesse
Date Deposited: 26 May 2016 09:08
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2018 08:32
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13266

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