Program in Comparative Literature

Karen Grumberg

Associate ProfessorPh.D.- 2004, University of California- Los Angeles

Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies
Karen Grumberg


  • Phone: 471-5134
  • Office: WMB 6.116
  • Office Hours: Tuesday 2:30 - 4:00
  • Campus Mail Code: F9400


Affiliated Research/Academic Unit

  • Ctr for Jewish Studies
  • Program in Comparative Literature 
  • Department of Middle Eastern Studies 
  • Center for Middle Eastern Studies


C L 323 • Israel/Palestine: Cultrl Persp

32838 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 301
(also listed as J S 363, MEL 321, MES 342)

This upper-division course approaches the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians through a multifaceted cultural lens. The course begins with a consideration of the two major national identities at stake to better understand how they contribute to the collective imagination and to representations of the conflict. To this end, the semester is divided into five sections, each one devoted to a different cultural phenomenon: 1. Visual Culture (Film, photography, art) 2. Literature (Novels, short stories, poetry, theater) 3. Music 4. Spatial Culture (Architecture and Landscape) 5. New Media (Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) The goal is for students to be exposed to the multivalent and complex reverberations of the conflict beyond the political and into the everyday lived experience of being Israeli and Palestinian -- in other words, to humanize the conflict through culture.


Texts will include (among others): - films: Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir, Eran Riklis’s Zaytoun, and Elia Suleiman’s Divine Intervention; - photography exhibits such as Bashir Makhoul’s Enter Ghost, Exit Ghost and Noel Jabbour’s Palestinian Interiors; - art such as Sivan Hurvitz’s graphic illustrations; - writings by Amos Oz (Nomad and Viper), Etgar Keret (Cocked and Locked), David Grossman (excerpts from The Yellow Wind), Mahmoud Darwish (poetry), and Ghassan Kanafani (from In the Land of the Sad Orange); - music by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra as well as traditional and popular artists; - essays on the importance of particular landscape features (such as olive and eucalyptus trees, forests, and the sea) as well as features or types of built environment (the kibbutz, the Palestinian village); - blog posts and new media campaigns for awareness and activism (Electronic Intifada, Jewish Voice for Peace, and others).

Grading Policy

Partner or Group Presentations: 15%. Students will present either in small groups on one of the five categories outlined above. The topic will be chosen in consultation with the instructor and will entail research. Presentations will be ongoing throughout the semester. - Analytical Paper: 20%. A critical comparative analysis of two texts (4-5 pages). - Essay Exams: An essay-based midterm exam (20%) and a final exam (25%). - Participation (20%): Vigorous, regular participation in class discussion. - Possible Extra-Credit Assignments: A creative project (a short film, work of art, poem, etc., relevant to the class topic); a response or short reaction paper to a relevant text not on the syllabus; a response or short reaction paper to a relevant lecture.

C L 386 • Space And Place In Literature

34397 • Spring 2014
Meets T 200pm-500pm CAL 422
(also listed as MEL 381, MES 386)

This is a graduate seminar on literary and other theories dealing with space and place, and their application in literary and cinematic works.Prerequisite: Graduate standing.


A. B. Yehoshua, Mr Mani, Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway, Ronit Matalon, The One Facing Us, Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place, Toni Morrison, Beloved, Anzia Yezierska, Bread Givers, Don DeLillo, White Noise, Theodor Herzl, Altneuland, Orly Castel-Bloom, Dolly CityYi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place: the Perspective of Experience, Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of SpaceThomas More, Utopia (Norton), Also: Various articles in course reader.


Class participation: 50%Research paper: 50%

C L 382 • Writ Between Cul: Arabs/Jews

33930 • Spring 2013
Meets W 300pm-600pm MEZ 2.102
(also listed as MEL 381, MES 386)

Homi Bhabha, in locating an international postcolonial culture, offers the concept of Third Space to account for its hybridity. He writes that 'we should remember that it is the 'inter' -- the cutting edge of translation and negotiation, the inbetween space -- that carries the burden of the meaning of culture' (Bhabha 1994). The existence of the Israeli Arab and the Arab Jew, two seemingly impossible categories of identity, suggests a reconsideration of a relationship that is often uncritically cast as antithetical, and seems to confirm the ideal of hybridity. However, the encounter with in-betweenness for both groups, rather than offering a fertile and fluid Third Space of identity formation that may help 'elude the politics of polarity,' foregrounds the uneasy and often paralyzing tension they impose (Bhabha 1994). As the world moves beyond the post-colonial paradigm and new demographic and cultural dynamics take shape, our understanding of identity must necessarily shift as well. In this seminar, we shall examine the theorization of in-betweenness and question its applicability in literature and film by Israeli Arab and Arab Jewish authors and filmmakers. Foremost among our concerns will be the poetics of in-betweenness, as they are articulated through allusion, spatiality, intertextuality, and more. Students interested in in-betweenness in other cultural and linguistic contexts are welcome and encouraged to join the seminar; no knowledge of Arabic or Hebrew is necessary.

Sample Texts

Robert Young, 'Hybridity and Diaspora,' from Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture, and Race, Homi Bhabha, from The Location of CultureDeleuze and Guattari, 'Toward a Minor Literature'Spivak, 'Can the Subaltern Speak?' Selections from Reconstructing Hybridity (essay collection) Anton Shammas, Arabesques: Hanan Hever, 'Hebrew in an Israeli Arab Hand: Anton Shammas's Arabesques' (from Producing the Modern Hebrew Canon) Taha, 'The Palestinians in Israel: Towards a Minority Literature'Shammas, 'Mixed as in Pidgin: The Vanishing Arabic of a 'Bilingual' City' Snir, ' 'Till Spring Comes': Arabic and Hebrew Literary Debates among Iraqi-Jews in Israel (1950-2000)', Sayed Kashua, Dancing Arabs, Hochberg, 'To Be or Not to Be an Israeli Arab: Sayed Kashua and the Prospect of Minority Speech-Acts', Brenner, 'The Search for Identity in Israeli Arab Fiction: Atallah Mansour, Emile Habiby, and Anton Shammas', D. Kayyal, ''Arabs Dancing in a New Light of Arabesques': Minor Hebrew Works of Palestinian Authors in the Eyes of Critics', Emile Habiby, The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist, Snir, ' 'Hebrew As the Language of Grace': Arab-Palestinian Writers in Hebrew'Ronit Matalon, The One Facing Us, Hochberg, 'Permanent Immigration': Jacqueline Kahanoff, Ronit Matalon, and the Impetus of Levantinism', Sami Michael, A Trumpet in the Wadi, Smadar Lavie, 'Blowups in the Borderzones: Third World Israeli Authors' Gropings for Home', Snir, ' 'We Were Like Those Who Dream': Iraqi-Jewish Writers in Israel in the 1950s'Eli Amir, Scapegoat, Ella Shohat, 'The Invention of the Mizrahim' Albert Memmi, Pillar of Salt, Memmi, 'Who is an Arab Jew?' Albert Cohen, Book of My MotherHelene Cixous, on Passporicity


Participation-50%; Seminar Paper-50%

C L 323 • Isrl/Palestn Confl In Lit/Film

33970 • Spring 2011
Meets TTH 930am-1100am PAR 203
(also listed as HEB 374, J S 363, MES 322K)

Course Description

This upper-division undergraduate course will examine literary and cinematic representations ofelements of the Israel/Palestine conflict by the most important Israeli, Palestinian, and “Arab Israeli”writers and filmmakers. In a discussion-intensive course, students will be exposed to diverseperspectives of the conflict. Some of the central questions we will investigate are: What effect canliterature and film have on the conflict? Conversely, what effect has the conflict had on literature andfilm? Do authors and filmmakers on any side of the conflict have a moral obligation to represent it, or torepresent it in a particular way? What is the author or artist’s role in places at war? No knowledge ofHebrew or Arabic is necessary.


Ghassan Kanafani, from Men In the Sun; Mahmoud Darwish, from Unfortunately, It Was ParadiseAnton Shammas, Arabesques. Additional textbooks will be provided by the instructor.

Grading & Requirements

Quiz 10%Active Participation 20%Essay Exam 1 20%Essay Exam 2 20%Final Essay Exam 30%

C L 386 • Space And Place In Literature

34045 • Spring 2011
Meets W 300pm-600pm MEZ 1.206
(also listed as HEB 385, MES 381)

What does the representation of space and place in literature contribute to our understanding of the social and cultural dynamics of the past century? We hear much about territory and airspace, cartography and border, nation and colony. We hear far less about spaces of human existence and experience: places as ordinary as a house, a terrace, or a garden, or as complex as major cities, the poetics of which dominated earlier theoretical scholarship on place.  Nor do we hear about how sites such as borders and security zones are themselves spaces of social experience and practice. This course will explore the poetics of social and experiential space as expressed in literature from the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. We will examine these fictional texts from a diverse interdisciplinary array of theoretical perspectives on space and place, which consider the meanings of space as a place, as a condition, and as a practice. All readings will be in English translation.

Sherwood Anderson, selected stories (1919)

Anzia Yezierska, Salome of the Tenements (1923)

Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (1925)

Henry Roth, Call It Sleep (1934)

Amos Oz, selected stories (1963)

Marguerite Duras, The Lover (1984)

Philip Roth, The Counterlife (1986)

Sayed Kashua, Let It Be Morning (2006)


Course reader

Selections from the following:

Robert Alter, Imagined Cities

Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

Edward Casey, Getting Back into Place

Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life

David Harvey, Spaces of Hope

Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space

Barabara Mann, A Place in History

Edward Soja, Postmodern Geographies

Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place

Thinking Space, eds. Mike Crang and Nigel Thrift

Curriculum Vitae

Profile Pages

External Links