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Writing Nature in Hebrew Literature: An Ecofeminist Reading



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Pearce, Susannah 


Nature in literature is often seen as a given, either a simple backdrop, or a means to reflect back some aspect of character, plot or theme. Yet, ecofeminists show, the construction of nature put forward by the literary hegemony has an effect on the way in which we conceptualise both our relationship with the natural world, and our relationships with one another. Indeed, the oppression of the human ’other’ and the domination of the natural ‘other’ have their origins in the very same source, and work to reinforce, legitimise and naturalise one another. In this thesis, I analyse Hebrew literature, putting nature at the forefront. In doing so, I extract three competing but supposedly complementary modes of viewing nature by the Zionist hegemony: as ‘barren wilderness’, as a ‘lover’ or ‘bride’, and as a ‘mother’. Paying attention to the gendered associations implicit in all three of these modes, I use Karen Warren’s ‘Logic of Domination’ as a conceptual key to investigate the interplay between gender, nation and nature in modern Hebrew literature. In doing so, I uncover an underlying tension in the threefold Zionist reading of nature, one which threatens to undermine the very model of the man-nature relationship that it creates. The Zionists wished to rescue the land from its perceived state of abandonment, barrenness, and abuse via their mastery and cultivation of it, to redeem it through ‘conquest of the wilderness’. Yet in doing so, I argue, they did not truly redeem nature from its fallen state, but simply re-imprisoned it in new chains of their own making: those of the hegemonic Zionist discourse. Nature for and of itself was not truly seen, but merely co-opted to serve the ‘redemption’ of the Jewish nation. Reading Meir Shalev’s The Blue Mountain (Roman Rusi) and other texts through an ecofeminist lens, I investigate the workings of this layered discourse, and its implications both for nature and for Zionism’s other ‘others’.





Peleg, Yaron


Ecofeminism, Gendering Nature, Meir Shalev, Nature in Hebrew Literature


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Wolfson Postgraduate Scholarship in the Humanities