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5ABA0011 Palestinian and Israeli Literature

Credit value: 15 credits
Module convenor: Dr Sinead Murphy
Assessment: 1 x 1,000 word review (15%); 1 x 3,000 word essay (85%); 1 x presentation (unassessed); coursework reassessment in exam period 3
Teaching pattern: One two hour seminar weekly
Pre-requisites: None

Reassessment: students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Module description

This module introduces students to the work of some of the best-known and most important writers from Israel/Palestine. Although the Israeli-Palestinian conflict regularly makes world headlines, the region’s rich and varied cultural production remains relatively unknown to European and North American audiences. Contrary to what you might expect, Palestinian and Israeli writers are just as likely to challenge nationalist certainties as they are to defend them, and just as likely to draw on modernist or postmodernist experimentation as on gritty realism.

Genres to be studied include the novel, novellas and short stories, poetry, drama, and film. No previous knowledge of the region is required, and all texts will be read in English translation.

Educational aims and objectives

The aim of this module is to read Palestinian and Israeli texts in dialogue with one another, as part of a body of literature written in response to a shared (if unequal) set of circumstances. Students will gain an understanding of the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day, and will be encouraged to reflect on the diverse ways in which contemporary Palestinian and Israeli writers have chosen to represent and reimagine this history.

Learning outcomes

After taking this course students will be able to demonstrate:

  • a detailed knowledge of works by key Palestinian and Israeli writers from 1948 to the present;
  • a good knowledge and understanding of the major events of Palestinian and Israeli history since the late 19th century and the international representation of the conflict;
  • an ability to identify, analyse, and communicate key concepts and theories that underpin Palestinian and Israeli writing;
  • independent reflections on Palestinian and Israeli works that are informed by the analysis of concepts at an abstract level.

Preparatory and Core Reading 

Ideal preparation for this module would include the following reading:

  • Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State (London: Penguin, 2010 [1896])
  • Edward Said, The Question of Palestine, 2nd ed (London: Vintage, 1992)

Key texts may include works by Ghassan Kanafani, S Yizhar, Amos Oz, Emil Habibi, Orly Castel-Bloom, Raja Shehadeh, Orly Castel-Bloom, and others.

Additional Information

This module is open to students on degree programmes other than those offered by the Department of Comparative Literature (subject to approval by the module convenor and availability of places).


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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