Research Unit Knowledge

Sideways. The Horizontal Turn of Early Hebrew Modernism


This project aims to present a poetic and historical analysis of the early years in the Hebrew literature of the early twentieth century. The years 1900–1914 marked the rise of the earliest form of Hebrew literary modernism, evident in the prose of the young writers of the period like Y. H. Brenner, U. N. Gnessin, H. D. Nomberg, Jacob Steinberg and Eliyahu Majdanek. The focal point of this research is a distinctive spatial feature evident in the prose of this literary generation, which is horizontality. The works of these young writers leave the impression that the universe depicted in them exists solely on the horizontal plane and that the vertical dimension is absent; everything spreads widthwise but nothing rises up. My research aims to explore the historical, political and epistemic origins of this emergent literary language of representation. Hence I address horizontality as a new form of knowledge engendered by the changing ways of movement, by political concerns with the origins of social aggression and the nature of sovereign power, and by existential accounts of the human condition.