“A Tale of Four Cities: Greco-Roman Antiquity and Hebrew Modernity”
Join us in-person at 617 Kent Hall at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, February 7, for a lecture with Giacomo Loi (University of Haifa), a recipient of the IIJS’ Kingdon New Voices in Israel and Jewish Studies Award for 2023-2024.
Since the nineteenth century, Hebrew writers integrated Greco-Roman culture as a non-Jewish sub-system within Hebrew culture to address various topics, ranging from literary aesthetics to issues of collective relevance. In contrast to previous studies organized around the “Hellenism and Hebraism” or “Athens and Jerusalem” dichotomy, I offer a new, “four cities” model to expand and better examine the picture of the reception of classical culture in Modern Hebrew literature. Following this model, I will demonstrate how Zionism, as a form of Jewish nationalism, serves as an essential backdrop for contextualizing classical reception throughout the history of Modern Hebrew literature. In fact, Zionism inherited the religious opposition with the classical world from Jewish tradition—but restructured it into an ethno-national one at the turn of the twentieth century, as I will show through a selection of political and literary texts.
Giacomo Loi is an Azrieli Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of Haifa. He earned his BA and MA in Classics at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, and obtained his doctorate at Johns Hopkins University in 2023 with the dissertation “‘Our Quarrel Is Of Old’: Classical Reception in Modern Hebrew Literature,” where he explores the presences, uses, and shifting meanings of Greco-Roman culture in modern Jewish Hebrew culture (1890s-2010s). As a 2021/22 doctoral fellow at the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah, Paris, he developed his project There Is No Analogy Within History: Classical Myth and Holocaust Literature, and initiated the project “Gentile” Antiquity: The Reception of Antiquity in Modern Italian Jewish Culture. He has published articles, online essays, and reviews on classical reception in Italian, European, and Jewish culture.
Supported by the generosity of Mark Kingdon and Anla Cheng Kingdon, as well as the Radov and Kaye families.
While all IIJS events are free and open to the public, we do encourage a suggested donation of $10.