Lital Levy

Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of Undergraduate Studies
Email Address:
Office Location: 
123 East Pyne

Office Hours Spring 2017:  By appointment; please email to schedule.

Periods: 19th-21st century

Languages: Hebrew, Arabic, Anglophone

Research Interests: Comparative literature, cultural studies, and history. Comparative Literature: Literary multilingualism, translation, and language politics; world literature and problems of comparison; comparative non-Western modernities and the politics of "revival"; temporality. History: Modern Middle Eastern Jewish history, intellectual and cultural history of Arab Jews; history of the haksalah and global Jewish modernity.

B.A., Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures and Master of International Affairs, Columbia University; Ph.D. (Comparative Literature), U.C. Berkeley; Junior Fellow, Harvard Society of Fellows.

My research in comparative literature encompasses Hebrew, Arabic, and Anglophone literatures and cultures both separately and in conjunction. I specialize in zones of contact between Arabic and Hebrew, and my work often finds itself at the nexus of literature and history, or of cultural studies and religion. My interests include contemporary Hebrew and Arabic writing and cinema from Israel/Palestine; Jewish literary multilingualism; world literature and the problem of comparison; world literature in relation to Jewish literature; comparative Middle Eastern literatures; the intellectual and literary history of Arab Jews in the late nineteenth-century Arab East (Iraq, Greater Syria, and Egypt), particularly their participation in the modern Arabic and Hebrew renaissance movements; the revision of modern Hebrew literary history (haskala to present); the revision of modern Sephardi/Mizrahi/ Arab Jewish intellectual history (fostering collaborative work on North Africa, the Levant, and the Ottoman heartland); Anglophone Middle Eastern and South Asian fiction; and the broader comparative history of modern non-Western "renaissance" and "enlightenment" movements. Throughout these myriad pursuits, I am particularly fascinated by questions of linguistic representation, literary multilingualism, and the politics of transnational and (cross)cultural circulation. My book Poetic Trespass (recipient of the 2014 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award from the Association for Jewish Studies, the 2014 Salo Baron Prize from the American Academy of Jewish Research, and the 2015 MLA Prize for a First Book) examines multilingualism, translation, and the cultural politics of language in the literature, art, and cinema of Israel/Palestine from the early 20th century to 2010. I am currently at work on my second book, an intellectual history of Arab Jews from 1863-1948, as well as new work on the culture and politics of Israel/Palestine addressing questions of temporality and the politics of allegory. 


Poetic Trespass: Writing between Hebrew and Arabic in Israel/Palestine (Princeton UP, 2014):

Partitioned Pasts: Jewish Writers in the Arab East (provisional title). Under contract with Stanford UP.



"Jewish Literature/ World Literature: Between the Local and the Transnational" (co-authored with Allison Schachter), PMLA 130:1 (January 2015), 92–109.

​“The Nahda and the Haskala: A Comparative Reading of ‘Revival’ and ‘Reform,’” Middle Eastern Literatures 16:3 (Winter 2013), 300-316.

“Nation, Village, Cave: A Spatial Reading of 1948 in Three Novels of Anton Shammas, Emile Habiby, and Elias Khoury,” Jewish Social Studies 18:3 (Spring/ Summer 2012): 10-26.

"Partitioned Pasts: Arab Jewish Intellectuals and the Case of Esther Azhari Moyal (1873-1948)," The Making of the Arab Intellectual (1880-1960): Empire, Public Sphere, and the Colonial Coordinates of Selfhood, ed. Dyala Hamzah (Routledge, 2012).

“Who is an Arab Jew? A Comparative Inquiry into the Origins of the Question, 1880-2008,” Teorya u-vikoret (Theory and Criticism) 38-39 (Winter 2011), 101-135 (in Hebrew).

"Reorienting Hebrew Literary History: The View from the East," Prooftexts 29:2 (2010), 127-172.

"Historicizing the Concept of Arab Jews in the Mashriq," Jewish Quarterly Review 98:4 (Fall 2008), 452-469.

"Self and the City: Literary Representations of Jewish Baghdad," Prooftexts 26 (2006): 163-211.