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Provost's Imagine Fund for Arts and Humanities

IN JOSAPHAT’S VALLEY: ESSAYS ON WAR, LITERATURE, AND LIFE

Part memoir, part academic investigation, my book project, IN JOSAPHAT’S VALLEY, traces the impact of contemporary warfare on the reading and interpreting of literary texts and other visual artifacts, such as film. The collection focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, in which I served previously as a foreign volunteer in the Israeli infantry and as a human rights advocate. The essays explore my own growth as a soldier and writer and try to come to terms with some of the horrors I witnessed in that locale, as well as their subsequent impact on my outlook as a critic. The collection is loosely modeled of Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia and Fussell’s The Great War and Modern Memory, though it employs more of the creative nonfiction techniques found in works like David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster. Of the 20 planned essays in the collection, 14 are published, three are in submission to journals, two are in-progress, and one requires funding to complete. This last essay, which complements an essay that I published in Harpur Palate on an Israeli military outpost in East Jerusalem, requires that I return to that outpost and interview soldiers, as well as Palestinians, so that I can gauge how the landscape of the conflict has changed in recent years. This collection is important, because, while many recent memoirs, stories, and novels have wrestled with the tropes of modern warfare, few if any works have asked how the experience of soldiering colors one’s perspective on literature and art.

First Name: 
Joshua
Last Name: 
Bernstein
E-mail Address: 
Campus: 
Duluth
Department: 
English