Porous Walls in Kafka, Coetzee, and Amos Kenan

Comparative Literature Luncheon Series
Feb 20, 2017
12:30 PM to 01:30 PM
102 Kern

Dr. Nitzan Lebovic, Lehigh University

The rising and falling of walls has been a key motif in major literary works such as Kafka's The Great Wall of China (1917), Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians (1980), and Amos Kenan's dystopian novel, The Road to Ein Harod (1984).  All three authors imagined the erecting of walls as the result of political instability, a deep collective fear, and the attempt to keep "barbarism" out. However, the three authors also worked during the heyday of modernism, and their imagined walls reflect foremost the failure to build a barrier, the inability to draw straight lines and united fronts, and the concentration of fear instead of its elimination.

Nitzan Lebovic is an associate professor of history and the Apter Chair of Holocaust studies and Ethical Values at Lehigh University. He received his BA in the History and Theory of Literature from Tel Aviv University and his PhD from UCLA. His first book, titled The Philosophy of Life and Death: Ludwig Klages and the Rise of a Nazi Biopolitics (2013) focused on the circle around the Lebensphilosopher and anti-Semitic thinker Ludwig Klages. His second book, about Zionism and Melancholia: The Short Life of Israel Zarchi was published in Hebrew in 2015 and is expected soon in English. Nitzan is also the Co-editor of The Politics of Nihilism (2014)  and of Catastrophe: A History and Theory of an Operative Concept (2014), and of special issues of Rethinking History (Nihilism), Zmanim (Religion and Power), and The New German Critique (Political Theology).

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