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The Charles Bernheimer Prize Citations 2014

2014 Prize Winner:

This year's Bernheimer Prize Award for Best Dissertation by a Graduate Student in Comparative Literature goes to Shaul Setter of the University of California, Berkeley, for his dissertation, "After the Fact: Potential Collectivities in Israel/Palestine."

Setter’s dissertation seeks to explore alternative and speculative reiterations of anti-colonial and non-national collectivities in literary and visual culture produced in and about Israel/Palestine. Mixing Hebrew and French literary genres of writings from S. Yizhar through Jean Genet to Haviva Pedaya) with economized forays into cinema (namely, Jean-Luc Godard and the Dziga-Vertov collective), Setter traces and recovers a trajectory of scattered texts that challenge fixed Euro-colonial identitarian projects and offers instead a counter-history of Israel/Palestine. Here are some of the comments of the committee members:
-This is a very intelligent and subtle exploration of difficult and elusive matters.  The question is what kind of writing and other collectivities might subsist in relation to Israel-Palestine and help to refine and multiply possibilities of identity in that contested area.  The chapters on Yizhar and Genet are exceptionally fine, but the whole work is intimately compelling.
-This is a truly comparative project, very well-theorized, and written in an elegant and accessible style. The argument may be deliberately speculative and politically tenuous, but the imaginativeness and erudition with which it is indefatigably propelled forward are admirable.
-A terrific reading strategy, interesting mix of Middle East and French, recovers cultural/literary history with relinking of Godard and Genet. Excellent history offered to clarify as he goes along. Theoretically sophisticated, but his voice controls the readings, keeps the other critics in check.

2014 Bernheimer Prize Committee:
Nouri Gana, University of California, Los Angeles (Chair)
Susan Z. Andrade, University of Pittsburgh
Michael Wood, Princeton University