Concrete dreaming : national subjects and narrative disruption in contemporary Israeli autobiography

2017-10-10T05:40:40Z (GMT) by Rubinstein, Keren Tova
This Creative Writing PhD comes in two parts. The first part is the Thesis, my autobiography about migration from Israel to Australia as a teenage girl whose adult experiences helped to shape an ambivalent national identity. It is also a story about the difficulty in articulating one's life with the conflicting narratives that make up a shared past. This ongoing challenge is apparent on the level of family, society and nation in this life narrative. This memoir is also an attempt to distill and comprehend my Israeli and Jewish identities. The verbal text is structured as nonlinear passages and is accompanied by graphic illustrations and photographs that conjure private and collective memory and representation. The second part or Exegesis is intended to situate and contextualize the Thesis. In this accompanying study I examine five contemporary Israeli autobiographies and the way in which they contest the dominant national narrative. I divide these works into those coming from the center and peripheries of Israeli society; the latter are unlikely to offer representative national subjects as defined by the country's founding ideology. The frrst chapter's focus is two minority autobiographies: Anton Shammas' s Arabesques (1986) and Lea Aini' s Rose of Lebanon (2009). The second chapter will examine three works from central, hegemonic or potentially privileged narrators: Amos Oz's A Tale of Love and Darkness (2002), Avraham Balaban's Mourning a Father Lost: a Kibbutz Childhood Remembered (2004) and Yitzhak Ben-Ner's Nobody's Ever Died Walking (2007). I argue that contemporary Israeli autobiography is a genre in which contestations of national ideology are common. I further maintain that the autobiographical boom is symptomatic of the country's diminished collective identification. Both central and marginal autobiographies will be shown to disrupt the dominant ideology of the Jewish state and to offer alternative narratives of Israeli subjectivity.