Lital Levy

Associate Professor of Comparative Literature
Email Address:
Office Location: 
123 East Pyne

Office Hours Spring 2018:  By appointment: Use WASS to schedule.

Periods: 19th-21st century  Languages: Hebrew, Arabic, Anglophone

Research Interests: I work in and between comparative literature, cultural studies, critical theory, and intellectual history. Research interests in comparative literature: Literary multilingualism, translation, and language politics; world literature and problems of comparison; comparative non-Western modernities and the politics of "revival"; East-West literary relations; temporality. History: Modern Middle Eastern Jewish history, intellectual and cultural history of Arab Jews; history of the Haksalah and global Jewish modernity.

B.A., Columbia University (Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures); M.A. Columbia University (International Affairs); Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley (Comparative Literature); 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, film, and popular culture from Israel/Palestine; Jewish literary multilingualism; world literature and the problem of comparison; critiques of the Western/ nation-centered model of world literature; Jewish literature and/ as world literature; translation in both East-West and South-South contexts; 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, particularly in relation to the theorization of literary modernity and global modernism. 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. With Allison Schachter, I am the co-editor of a special double issue of Prooftexts (2017) on Jewish writing and World Literature. I am currently at work on my second book, an intellectual history of Arab Jews from 1863-1948. I am also engaged in new work on the culture and politics of Israel/Palestine, developing separate book projects; one addresses questions of temporality and the other investigates representations of passing and doubling in relation to the politics of allegory. 

At Princeton, I have taught in the areas of Hebrew and Arabic literatures, Jewish literature and culture, world literature, and critical theory. Recent graduate seminars include a course on the comparative poetics of "passing" and masquerade (African-American, Jewish-American, LGBTQ and Israeli-Palestinian literature film) and on the idea of the Arab Jew. I have also taught at the Institute for World Literature at Harvard University (Summer 2016) and at the Yiddish Book Center (Summers 2016 and 2017). I advise graduate students working in related areas of interest. 


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

The Jewish Nahda: An Arab-Jewish Intellectual History (provisional title). Under contract with Stanford UP. Expected 2019.


Selected Articles

"A Non-Universal Global: On Jewish Writing and World Literature" (co-authored with Allison Schachter), Prooftexts 36:1-2 (2017), 1-26. Access here.

"The Arab Jew Debates: Media, Culture, Politics, History," Journal of Levantine Studies 7:1 (Summer 2017), 79-103. Access here.

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

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

“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.

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