Love and His Love’s Jerusalem: Melville, Zionism, and the American Jewess

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Summer 2010

Project Description/Abstract

American Studies scholars have traced the United States’ current preoccupation with the Middle East to longer histories of American religious and political investment in the region. This project contributes to and revises these studies by illuminating a significant shift in Americans’ perceptions of the Middle East that occurred in the late nineteenth century. I propose that during this period, cultural representations of the “American Jewess” facilitated the re-imagining of US-Palestine relations as familial, replacing an outmoded colonial mythology that envisioned the United States as a New Israel. I suggest that the “American Jewess,” featured in magazines, novels, and, significantly, in Herman Melville’s epic poem Clarel, allowed for the conception of Zionism as a US national project. The CART summer grant will enable me to research and write a scholarly article on this topic that will comprise the final chapter of my book project on Holy Land images in US literature.

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