Hebrew Dystopias

From National Catastrophes to Ecological Disasters

in Israel Studies Review
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  • 1 Ben-Gurion University of the Negev netta.baryosef@gmail.com
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Abstract:

This article examines contemporary Hebrew dystopic novels in which ecological issues play a critical role, reflecting an increasing preoccupation of Israeli culture and society with the environment. The literary turn to dystopia is not new, but whereas Israeli dystopias published in the 1980s–1990s focused mainly on military apocalyptic visions, current novels combine these national anxieties with ecological dangers, following present-day trends in American literature and cinema. These contemporary dystopias either conjoin a national crises with an ecological disaster as the source of the catastrophe or represent environmental recklessness as evidence of moral corruption, linking ecological and social injustice to the emergence of a Jewish theocracy. Offering an ecocritical reading of these novels, the article pinpoints the American cultural influence on the narratives. This thematic shift in Hebrew fiction, I argue, reflects a rising environmental awareness and positions literature as a major arena in which these issues are raised.

Contributor Notes

NETTA BAR YOSEF-PAZ teaches at the Kibbutzim College of Education,Technology, and the Arts and at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Her fields of research and teaching include an ecocritical approach to contemporary American and Hebrew fiction, whiteness studies, representations of filth in art and literature, and contemplative pedagogy. Her most recent publication is “Filthy ‘Others’ in 1990s Environmentalist Fiction: From Steinbeck to Boyle” (Steinbeck Review, 2017). E-mail: netta.baryosef@gmail.com

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