Esther Raizen

Associate ProfessorPh.D., University of Texas at Austin

Esther Raizen



Modern and classical Hebrew language and literature, Jewish history and culture, teaching Hebrew as a foreign language, computer assisted instruction, computational linguistics, academic advising and student development.


J S 363 • Isrl/Palestine: Parallel Lives

40060 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm PAR 301
(also listed as ISL 373, MEL 321, MES 342)

Palestinian and Israeli societies have lived side by side for generations, developing their cultural traits in parallel and often within a framework marked by animosity and mutual rejection.  What is the role of popular culture in shaping the political and social consciousness of these societies? Can we find in the respective popular cultures the marks of interaction and mutual influence in addition to the obvious signs of conflict? The course will explore a variety of themes considered central to both societies, focusing on their expression in popular culture.  Students who complete the course successfully will be able to articulate the fundamental values of these societies and draw lines of similarity and difference between them as they reflect on the history of the region and its future.  The themes covered will include, among others, child rearing, rites of passage, romance, dress codes, cuisine, nature conservation, commemoration practices and the power of language.  Each theme will be observed in both societies, with Dr. Mohammad driving the Palestinian perspective and Dr. Raizen driving the Israeli one.  The course will culminate in group projects that will draw on the perspectives of both societies.

The course will be taught in English, and does not assume familiarity with a regional language.  Students will be taught 150 or so words and phrases in Arabic and Hebrew in the course of the semester, and will be introduced to a number of regional proverbs in their original languages.


In addition to newspaper articles from Israel and Palestine and other media resources, we will read segments from the following books:

Rebecca L. Stein and Ted Swedenburg, eds.  Palestine, Israel, and the Politics of Popular Culture.  Duke University Press, 2005.

Motti Regev and Edwin Seroussi .  Popular Music and National Culture in Israel.  University of California Press, 2004.Alexandra Nocke.  The Place of the Mediterranean in Modern Israeli Identity.  Middle Eastern Studies Volume 47, Issue 1, 2011.

Grading Policy

Attendance and participation: 30%Three essays:   45%Final project: 25%

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