NYU Steinhardt

Imaging Palestine/Israel: Issues in the Politics of Representation

  • Course Number: MCC-GE 2115
  • Hours: 40
  • Units: 4
  • Description: This seminar will explore the imaging of Palestine/Israel since the invention of the camera, highlighting the role of visual culture in the shaping of the debate over this highly contested geography. Within in a comparative perspective we will consider the diverse sources & modes of representation, including American travelers’ exoticizing accounts of the “Holy Land,” early Zionist utopianist narratives, Palestinian documentarist photography & contemporary historicizing anthologies of past images. We will study the ways images of maps, landscapes, archeological sites, villages, cities, houses, & communities have come to constitute a kind of visual archive that both document the past & serves as “evidence” for specific historical narratives. In recent photographic anthologies, historical texts, tourist guidebooks, memoirs, novels, as well as in documentary & fictional films, such visual material prior to the partition of Palestine has played an important role in the battle over representation. In context of partition & displacement, we will argue, dominant & counter media also play in defining national identity & communal belonging. Rather than taking for granted such notions as “seeing is believing” & “images do not lie,” we will address the complex relationship between image & word, & between text & context. The seminar will be organized around key concepts & questions having to do with the orientalist imaginary, national allegory, & diasporic narratives.
  • Old Course Number: E38.2115