Nancy E. Berg

Nancy E. Berg

Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature
PhD, University of Pennsylvania
research interests:
  • Genre Literature
  • Immigration Literature
  • Modern Hebrew & Arabic Literatures
  • Women's Literature

contact info:

mailing address:

  • MSC 1121-107-113
    Washington University
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

Professor Berg teaches courses in Israeli society, Middle Eastern literatures, and Jewish culture. While much of her scholarship focuses on the literature of Iraqi Jews, she has also researched Israeli women's writing, memory writing, and food.

Her first book, Exile from Exile, explores the writings of Israeli Jews from Iraq, heirs to the longest continuous Jewish community: Babylonian Jewry. In More and More Equal, her next book, she analyzes the literary career of Israeli writer Sami Michael. What We Talk About When We Talk About Hebrew (And What It Means to Americans), coedited with Naomi B. Sokoloff, won the 2019 National Jewish Book Award for Anthologies and Collections. Their second project, Since 1948: Israeli Literature in the Making is scheduled to be published this October.

Prof. Berg has been a fellow at CASA (Center for Arabic Study Abroad), the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the Herbert Katz Center for Advanced Jewish Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She previously served as president of the NAPH (National Association of Professors of Hebrew).

From our podcast:

Hold That Thought Podcast

Remembering Baghdad

In the mid-twentieth century, the thriving Jewish community in modern-day Baghdad quickly came to an end. Years later, those who experienced life in Baghdad - and also the children of those exiled - turned to literature to share their memories. Revisit this episode to discover ideas and stories from Nancy Berg's recently published book, "Since 1948: Israeli Literature in the Making."

Since 1948: Israeli Literature in the Making

Since 1948: Israeli Literature in the Making

Toward the end of the twentieth century, an unprecedented surge of writing altered the Israeli literary scene in profound ways. As fresh creative voices and multiple languages vied for recognition, diversity replaced consensus. Genres once accorded lower status—such as the graphic novel and science fiction—gained readership and positive critical notice. These trends ushered in not only the discovery and recovery of literary works but also a major rethinking of literary history. In Since 1948, scholars consider how recent voices have succeeded older ones and reverberated in concert with them; how linguistic and geographical boundaries have blurred; how genres have shifted; and how canon and competition have shaped Israeli culture. Charting surprising trajectories of a vibrant, challenging, and dynamic literature, the contributors analyze texts composed in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Arabic; by Jews and non-Jews; and by Israelis abroad as well as writers in Israel. What emerges is a portrait of Israeli literature as neither minor nor regional, but rather as transnational, multilingual, and worthy of international attention.