Shai Ginsburg

Shai Ginsburg

Associate Professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

External address: 
John Hope Franklin Center, 2204 Erwin Road, Durham, NC 27708-0414
Internal office address: 
Box 90414, Durham, NC 27708-0414
(919) 681-4592
Office Hours: 

Thursday 9:30-11:30 &
Friday 11:30-1:30
Or By Appointment

My work focuses on Israel and its culture in its relation to Jewish nationalism and its variants. I am especially interested in the way works of culture shape the political imagination and vice versa, the engagement with politics shapes our perception of culture, society and history. In this context, I have written on Israeli and Jewish-international cinema, Hebrew literature, Israeli historiography and Jewish politics of the 19th and 20th century. I am the author of Rhetoric and Nation: The Formation of Hebrew National Culture, 1880-1990 (Syracuse University Press, 2014), which explores the way works of literature, criticism and politics shape the Hebrew discourse of the nation. I am also the co-editor, with Brian Horowitz, of Bounded Mind and Soul: Russia and Israel, 1880–2010 (Slavica Publishers, 2013) that surveys the impact Russia and its culture had on Jews and Jewish culture over the last 150 years. In addition to Israeli culture, I also am deeply engaged with critical theory. I have translated Paul de Man’s collection of essays The Resistance to Theory into Hebrew and have written on de Man and deconstruction in the US.

I currently have three running projects:

  • Israeli documentary filmmaking: an ongoing series of conferences and workshop, designed to produce scholarship on this understudied field.
  • Research group on games, culture and conflict: the group looks at the role games play in culture, particularly in the context of ethno-religio-national conflicts; on the ways games model culture; and at possible uses of games as analytical and pedagogical tools of cultures in conflict. As part of this project, the team is also developing a simulation game.
  • Israeli Law and Literature: In this project I look at how the Israeli Book of Law on the one hand and Works of Culture on the other hand have framed each other’s horizon of expectation; that is, how the Books of Law has shaped the cultural imagination and how Works of Culture produced the legal imagination. Portions of this work have recently been published in Toward a Critical Rhetoric on the Israel-Palestine Conflict (Parlor Press, 2015) and Jewish Rhetoric: History, Theory, Practice (Brandeis University Press).

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University of Michigan at Ann Arbor 2001

  • M.A., Hebrew University 1995

  • B.A., Hebrew University 1992

Ginsburg, Shai, et al. Jews and the Ends of Theory. 2018.

Ginsburg, S., and Brian Horowitz. Bounded Mind and Soul: Russia and Israel, 1880–2010. Slavica Publishers, 2013.

Man, P. D. The Resistance to Theory. Translated by P. D. Shai Ginsburg, Resling, 2010.

Ginsburg, S., et al. “Jews, Theory, and Ends.” Jews and the Ends of Theory, edited by Shai Ginsburg et al., vol. Jews and the Ends of Theory, Fordham University Press, 2018, pp. 1–26.

Ginsburg, S. “Poetry and Conflict: on Civility, Citizenship and Criticism.” Toward a Critical Rhetoric on the Israel-Palestine Conflict, edited by S. Matthew Abraham, Parlor Press, 2015, pp. 152–74.

Ginsburg, S. “The City and the Body: Jerusalem in Uri Tsvi Greenberg’s Vision of One of the Legions.” Jerusalem Across the Disciplines, edited by Miriam Elman and Madelaine Adelman, 2014.

Ginsburg, S. “S. Yizhar’s Khirbet Khizeh and the rhetoric of conflict.” Jewish Rhetorics: History, Theory, Practice, 2014, pp. 165–79.

Ginsburg, S. “Class and Historical Anxiety: The Rhetoric of Class in David Ben-Gurion’s and Meir Ya’ari’s Thought (in Hebrew).” Literature and Inequality, edited by Amir Banbaji and Hannan Hever, The Van Leer Institute, 2014.

Ginsburg, S. “War and Peace in Israel: Hebrew Literature and Russian Literature in Hebrew, 1942–60.” Bounded Mind and Soul: Russia and Israel, 1880–2010, edited by Brian Horowitz and Shai Ginsburg, Slavica Publishers, 2013, pp. 131–50.

Ginsburg, S. “From Ziklag One Cannot See Khirbet Khizeh.” The Palestinian Nakba in Cinema and Literature, 2012, pp. 23–31.

Ginsburg, S. “Love in Search of Belief, Belief in Search of Love.” The Modern Jewish Experience in World Cinema, 2011, pp. 371–76.

Ginsburg, S. “Rhetoric and Criticism: The Work and Life of Paul de Man.” The Resistance to Theory, by Paul de Man (Hebrew Translation), 2010.

Ginsburg, S. “Truth in the Land of Israel: On the Notion of Truth in the Work of Ahad Ha-‘Am.” A Moment of Birth: Studies in Hebrew and Yiddish Literatures in Honor of Dan Miron, edited by Hannan Hever, Jerusalem: Mosad Bialik, 2007, pp. 260–75.


Ginsburg, S. “Pessah Ginsburg: Two Letters (Christiania 1917; London 1918).” Jerusalem Studies in Hebrew Literature, vol. 29, 2017, pp. 307–21.

Ginsburg, S. “Paul de Man’s Death Mask.” Mikan, no. 16, 2016, pp. 256–64.

Paul de Man, S. “Autobiography as De-Facement.” Miakn, translated by S. Ginsburg, no. 16, 2016, pp. 244–55.

Ginsburg, S. P. “Alon Hilu and the Hebrew historical novel.” Shofar, vol. 33, no. 4, June 2015, pp. 134–57. Scopus, doi:10.1353/sho.2015.0029. Full Text

Ginsburg, S. “The Bookcase and the Language of Grace.” Mikan, vol. 14, 2014, pp. 239–63.

Ginsburg, Shai. “The Physics of Being Jewish, or On Cats and Jews.” Ajs Review, vol. 35, no. 2, Cambridge University Press (CUP), Nov. 2011, pp. 357–64. Crossref, doi:10.1017/s0364009411000444. Full Text

Ginsburg, S. “An American Reflection: Steven Spielberg, the Jewish Holocaust and the Israeli Palestinian Conflict.” American Studies, vol. 34, no. 1, 2011, pp. 45–76.

Ginsburg, S. “Studying Violence: The Films of Avi Mograbi.” Takriv, no. 2, 2011.

Ginsburg, S. “Signs and wonders: Fetishism and hybridity in Homi Bhabha's the location of culture.” New Centennial Review, vol. 9, no. 3, Dec. 2009, pp. 229–50. Scopus, doi:10.1353/ncr.0.0082. Full Text

Ginsburg, S. “The Social Function of Israeli Cinema.” Zeek, 2009, pp. 73–79.