Halls Visiting Scholar: Hamutal Bar-Yosef

by Judith Sone


Hamutal Bar-Yosef, Professor Emerita, Ben-Gurion University

About the speaker

Hamutal Bar-Yosef was born on 1940  in Israel, in a kibbutz near the Sea of Galilee. At 20 she got her BA in Philosophy and Hebrew Literature and at the same age she was married to the playwright Yosef Bar-Yosef. At 29 she was a mother of four children. At 33 she did her second degree in Comparative Literature, and at 44 she got her PhD at the Hebrew University. From 1987 through 2003 she taught in the Department of Hebrew Literature at Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva. She has lived in Jerusalem since 1976. 

She has written poetry since the age of eight, expressing the trauma of bereavement and the miracle of inner survival.  Since 1971 she has published nine collections of poetry, as well as short stories, a book for children, and two collections of poetry translated  from Russian: Olga Sedakova’s  (1998) and Yulia Viner’s (2003). She won the Akum Prize (1978), the Tel-Aviv Prize (1984), the Jerusalem Prize for poetry (1997), the WIZO Prize for the Creative Woman (1999), the President of Israel Prize for poetry (2002), and the Brenner Prize for poetry (2005). Her poems have been translated into English, French, German, Russian, Ukraine, Arabic, and Yiddish.

She has also published six books of literary research, among which are Trends of Decadence in Modern Hebrew Literature  (Jerusalem, 1997) and Symbolism in Modern Poetry (2000). She edited an anthology of Hebrew literature in Russian translation (RSUH, 2000). She taught as a visiting Professor in the Institute of Oriental Languages (Paris), Columbia University (New York), and the University of Humanities (RSUH), Moscow.  During fall 2002 she was a Fellow in the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her main fields of literary research are the Russian context of Jewish literature and culture, and mysticism in modern Hebrew poetry.

During her two-week residency at UW–Madison, Professor Bar-Yosef will be offering a poetry reading and public lecture, and she will also be visiting several classes in the department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies. Hamutal Bar-Yosef’s visit is made possible through the Jay C. and Ruth Halls Visiting Scholarship.

Poetry Reading: March 20, 2012

Join Bar-Yosef and members of the departments of Slavic Languages and Literature, Hebrew and Semitic Studies, African Languages and Literature, French and Italian, and the Program in Creative Writing in the Department of English for a multilingual reading of Bar-Yosef’s poetry in Hebrew, English, Arabic, French, and Russian.  Bar-Yosef’s collection Night, Morning is available for sale at the University Book Store and is on reserve at Memorial Library.

Event Details

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

7:30 p.m. (with reception to follow)

Lathrop Hall (1050 University avenue)

Public Lecture: March 27, 2012

How did Mysticism Penetrate into Jewish Studies? The Russian Context

Event Details

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

4:00 pm

Red Gym (716 Langdon Street)

If the founders of Wissenschaft des Judentums—the pioneers of Jewish studies in nineteenth-century Germany—could be here today, they would be surprised to see that Jewish mysticism—Kabbala, Hassidism, and other Jewish mystical trends—is now a legitimate part of Jewish studies.  During the nineteenth century the majority of masskilim (Jewish intellectuals) in Germany  appreciated only the “enlightened” aspects of  Jewish religion. Mysticism was for them an obscure, retarded deviation from Judaism. When, where, how, and why did the rehabilitation of Jewish mysticism take place?

This lecture will try to answer these questions. It will show that research of Jewish mysticism did not begin with Martin Buber and Gershom Scholem, and it was not connected with Zionism. A positive change of attitude toward Kabbala, Sabbetaianism, and Hassidism was a process which was taking place in Russia during the last third of the nineteenth century. It was carried out by Jewish scholars and writers of literature who were influenced by Russian modern mystical trends, which at that period were spreading in Russia and in other European countries.

Listen to lecture

Bar-Yosef’s lecture is available as a podcast through iTunes U. More information.