Materialist Thought and Jewish Culture

Recent years have seen a small revival of interest in materialist interpretation among scholars of Hebrew culture (and Jewish culture at large). A small, yet growing number of scholarly articles, edited volumes and monographs have sought to shed new light on the history of Jewish cultures and of their present moment through the prism of divergent modes of materialist approaches. This symposium seeks to bring together such approaches, interrogate them, and chart their contributions to our understanding of Jewish cultures, and of Israeli cultures in particular. For example, how does a specific materialist perspective change the way one sees Israeli literary history and its transformations? How does Israeli cultural products register specific material tensions or the economic in general? What is unique to Israeli or Hebrew cultural production, viewed from specific materialist perspectives? We are also seeking to ask questions about the history and historiography of Israeli culture: what prompted the flourishing of materialist criticism of Israeli culture in the 1950s, what was behind its demise in the 1960s, and what prompted scholars renewed interest in it since the early 2000? 

The symposium will interrogate these questions and related ones. 

The symposium will take place on February 19-21, 2022 at Duke University, NC.