ICLTS Seminar Series | Bodies, Selves, and Space: Contemporary Women Writers’ Memoirs about Israel/Palestine
Bodies, Selves, and Space: Contemporary Women Writers’ Memoirs about Israel/Palestine
Dr Isabelle Hesse (School of Literature, Art and Media, University of Sydney)
In this paper, I consider memoirs by women writers who have lived in Israel and Palestine at significant historical moments in time, including the first Palestinian Intifada and Operation Cast Lead. I examine how German-Jewish writer Angelika Schrobsdorff and Scottish author Louisa B. Waugh use their bodily experiences, including the movement of bodies through space, to engage with the situation in Israel/Palestine. On one hand, I argue that the bodily experience is closely linked to the identities of the authors/narrators, particularly the ways in which being in Palestine and Israel defines but also challenges their identity. On the other hand, following Sidonie Smith who has argued that bodies are ‘a powerful source of metaphors for the social’ (1994: 269), I suggest that the bodily experience is used to mobilise a human rights rhetoric that emphasises a bodily experience of conflict in order to draw attention to Palestinians as human beings and thus deserving of human rights in the eyes of European audiences. As such, this paper brings together theories of bodies, space, and identity to interrogate how Anglophone and Germanophone writers engage critically with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and interrogates to what extent this makes them examples of world literature as a critical method that emphasises a reciprocal relationship between literature and the wider world.
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