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Course Description

Images of War & Peace in Israeli Public Culture (3 cr.)
Jon Simons
JSTU-J 303 Arts & Humanities Topics in Jewish Studies #26009/ CMCL-C 311 Images of War & Peace in Public Culture #31193
MW 11:15-12:30

This class studies images of war and peace in Israeli public culture from before its independence in 1948 until the present. The class will elaborate the notion of peace and war as “political images” by drawing on work from visual culture studies (particularly that of W.J.T. Mitchell). In this light, images of peace and war are not only visual images or political concepts, but complex condensations and rich webs of cultural associations which are manifested in a variety of verbal, visual, and acoustic media and a range of forms. As I do not presuppose prior knowledge of Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians and other Arab nations, the class will provide a brief overview of those issues.

The perpetual debate in Israel about war and peace is conducted as a struggle for hegemony between competing images of war and peace that are produced, disseminated, and consumed in Israel’s vibrant public culture. The range of image texts that the class will study includes films, literature, journalism, graphic and fine art, popular music, political performance through demonstrations and speeches, and memorials, in addition to the formal, political positions on war and peace that are advocated in Israel. The guiding questions for the class will be: what are the different images of war and peace that are contested in Israel? (such as war as heroic, as necessary but tragic, as the opposite of peace; peace as separation, as coexistence, as conquest, as an impossible dream, as a lost hope). How do various media and cultural practices constitute differing images of war and peace in Israel? Which images tend to predominate, and why? How and when do images change, and how do those changes connect to the political events of war and peace? Could persuasive images of peace contribute to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

Beginning Summer 2011 & after: CASE A&H
Before Summer 2011:  A&H, JS Religion & Thought