Zohar Shavit

Zohar Shavit (Hebrew: זהר שביט, b.1951) is a professor at Tel Aviv University’s School for Cultural Studies.

Zohar Shavit
Zohar Shavit.jpg
Zohar Shavit
Born (1951-04-14) April 14, 1951 (age 69)
Scientific career
InstitutionsTel Aviv University
Doctoral advisorItamar Even-Zohar

Personal lifeEdit

Shavit was born in Tel Aviv.[citation needed] She studied at Tel Aviv University, where she wrote her Ph.D. theses under the supervision of Itamar Even-Zohar in the direct course of studies for outstanding students. In 1997 she became a full professor of culture research at Tel Aviv University.[citation needed]

Shavit is married to the historian and writer Yaacov Shavit, the mother of Noga, Uriya,[1] and Avner.[2]

Public careerEdit

In 2000, she was appointed a cultural affairs advisor to Matan Vilnai, the Minister of Science, Culture and Sport.[3] She served as an advisor to the Knesset's education and cultural committee and was a member of the Board of Directors of the Second Television and Radio Authority,[4] and a member of the New Council for Arts and Culture. She is a member of the council of the Israeli opera and of the Board of Governors of literary prizes for the Ministry of Culture.[5]

She chaired as the Ministry of Science, Culture and Sport’s Vision 2000 committee,[6] which drafted and presented the Ministry's cultural program (Culture Charter – Vision 2000, Cultural Policy for the State of Israel in the 21st Century: Consensus Statement). She initiated the reading project of "A Book at every House" and chaired it for six years.[7]

In 2009, when she was elected to Tel Aviv's city council, Shavit was appointed Cultural Affairs Advisor to Ron Huldai, the Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo.[8] In this capacity, she initiated several cultural projects, among which were changing the status of two archives: the Gnazim archive[9] and the Theater archive, which was made part of Beit Ariela – the municipal main library. She initiated the "Poetry on the Road" project in which passages of poetry were exhibited throughout the city on placards, banners and signs, including at bus stations, three of the city's boulevards and on city garbage trucks.[10] In addition, she initiated a poetry writing competition.[11]

Academic career and research contributionEdit

Shavit is the founder and chair of the Master’s Program in the Research of Child and Youth Culture at Tel Aviv University.[12] At Tel Aviv University, she founded and developed two fields of study: the social history of Hebrew culture and the children’s and youth culture.

As of 2019, Shavit has published more than ten academic books in Hebrew, English, German, and Portuguese, and over a hundred research papers that have appeared in Hebrew, English, German, French, Italian, Arabic, Turkish, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Her book The Construction of Hebrew Culture in the Jewish Yishuv in Eretz-Israel [13](1998) examined the cultural institutions in the context of the special status Hebrew culture enjoyed among the political and cultural leadership of the Yishuv.[14]

Her book Literary Life in Eretz Israel 1910-1933 (1982),[15] which was based on hundreds of private letters and other archival materials, explores unknown chapters in transforming Eretz-Israel into the hegemonic center of Hebrew culture and described the inter-generational struggle over the governing literary norms.[16]

Her book Poetics of Children's Literature[17] (1986; a revised Hebrew version – Just Childhood 1996) examines children's literature in its cultural contexts, and presents a theoretical model of an a-priori multi-readership: the child as an official addressee, and the adult as an unofficial addressee whose function keeps changing historically.[18] She has also authored articles about the development of Hebrew children's literature and its function in the national renaissance of the Hebrew language as well as on Hebrew translations of prominent children's books by authors such as Erich Kästner [19] and Mira Lobe.[20][21]

Since the mid-1980s, Shavit has worked on the emergence of a new system of books for Jewish children in the German speaking areas since the last decades of the 18th century. The results of this comprehensive study were published as Deutsch-jüdische Kinder- und Jugendliteratur. Von der Haskalah bis 1945 (with Hans-Heino Ewers, 1996)[22] and in Deutsch-Jüdische Kinder- und Jugendliteratur: Ein literaturgeschichtlicher Grundriss (2002, with Annegret Völpel).[23] In these studies, Shavit described how these books served as agents of social change and their function in the construction of the children's Jewish identity.

She conducted a larger scale research on the republic of books of the Haskalah with Shmuel Feiner of Bar-Ilan University and Christoph Schulte of Potsdam University. The research focused on the various ways in which this new market was developed, organized, and monitored. A unique database with special software was developed especially for this research project and allowed for a unique broad analysis of the Haskalah books, of those involved in their creation, and of their readership.[24] In 2014, together with Shmuel Feiner, Natalie Naimark-Goldberg, and Tal Kogman (eds.), she published The Library of the Haskalah [Hebrew], a socio-historical study of the republic of books of the Haskalah.[25]

Between 2013 and 2019, she conducted together with Simone Lässig (Braunschweig, Washington) a comprehensive research project on Innovation through tradition? Approaching cultural transformations during the 'Sattelzeit' via Jewish educational media.[26] This research project examined how various media for children and young adults participated in and activated significant reforms in the Jewish society. Her own individual research project analyzed several cases of cultural translation: the first addressed the attempt to present new forms of daily practices, or more precisely – a new habitus, to the Jewish public. With guidelines on daily practices including personal hygiene, dress, language, leisure, and interactions with one’s surroundings, these texts reached not only children – their official readership – but the parents' generation as well. As a test case, she analyzed the translation into Hebrew of passages of Rousseau's Émile.[27] The second project focused on the endeavor to present cultural models pertaining to Bürgertum and Bildung. She analyzed how David Samostz, the translator of Campe's Robinson der Jüngere,[28] used his translation as a platform for illustrating typical scenarios of bourgeois families in which children are educated according to the principles of Philanthropinism. Samostz presented throughout his translation a model of bourgeois life and "staged" or dramatized various principles of philanthropic pedagogy.[29]

A Past without a Shadow,[30] [Hebrew, Avar Belo Tzel,1999] her study of the construction of the past image in German books for children, was published by Routledge in 2005 and gained academic and public attention.[31][32][33] This study described how books published in West Germany since 1945, which received glowing reviews and were awarded prestigious literary prizes, have constructed a “story” in which the horrors of the Third Reich have been systematically screened and filtered. The prevailing narrative for children failed to acknowledge German responsibility for the suffering caused by the German people during the Third Reich and the Holocaust. The construction of such a falsified past image resulted not from an attempt at Holocaust denial, but responded to the tacit demands of German society to participate in the creation of a wishful past image that gives expression to a conscious and unconscious code which existed at the heart of the West German narrative. This narrative focused on the German suffering, distinguished between the "Germans" and the "Nazis", and almost excluded the victims of the Final Solution from the past image and the collective memory.[34]

Since 2017, she has conducted two research projects both dealing with the social history of the Hebrew language. The first one deals with "Hebraization" as a project of nation building. It grapples with the unreliability of official assessments of Hebrew's dominance, and identifies and examines a broad variety of less politicized sources, such as various regulatory, personal, and commercial documents of the period as well as recently-conducted oral interviews. Together, these reveal a more complete – and more complex – portrait of the linguistic reality of the time.[35]

The other research is based on her discovery of hitherto unknown archival material in the AIU archive in Paris.[36] This project describes and accounts for the reasons behind Eliezer Ben-Yehuda's decision to change his original intention to write a practical Hebrew dictionary and to create instead his greatest opus – The Complete Dictionary of Ancient and Modern Hebrew as a scientific historical Dictionary.

Selected booksEdit

  • Literary Life in Eretz Israel 1910-1933. The Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics in Collaboration with Hakibutz-Hameuchad, Tel Aviv, 1982. [Hebrew]
  • Poetics of Children's Literature. The University of Georgia Press, Athens and London, 1986. ISBN 9780820307909, 0820307904
  • Die Darstellung des Dritten Reiches im Kinder- und Jugendbuch [The Presentation of the Third Reich in Books for Children]. with Malte Dahrendorf. Dipa, Frankfurt a/M., 1988. (German). ISBN 9783763801282, 3763801286
  • Deutsch-jüdische Kinder- und Jugendliteratur von der Haskala bis 1945: Die deutsch- und hebräischsprachigen Schriften des deutschsprachigen Raums. Ein ... Handbuch in zwei Bänden [German-Jewish Literature for Children and Adolescents: From the Haskalah to 1945. The German and Hebrew Texts in the German Speaking Area. A Bibliographical Handboo] .With Hans-Heino Ewers, in Zusammenrbeit mit Ran HaCohen. Metzler Verlag: Stuttgart, 1996. (German). ISBN 9783476014214, 3476014215
  • The Construction of the Hebrew Culture in the Jewish Yishuv in Eretz Israel. The Israel Academy of Sciences and the Bialik Institute, Jerusalem, 1998. [Hebrew]
  • Deutsch-Jüdische Kinder- und Jugendliteratur. Ein literaturgeschichtlicher Grundriß. [German-Jewish Literature for Children and Adolescents: A Literary-Historical Outline] With Annegret Völpel. Metzler Verlag: Stuttgart Weimar, 2002. (German). ISBN 9783476019363, 3476019365
  • A Past Without Shadow: Constructing the Past in German Books for Children. Routledge: New York, 2005. ISBN 9781138799066, 1138799068
  • The Library of the Haskalah. With Shmuel Feiner, Natalie Naimark-Goldberg and Tal Kogman. Am Oved: Tel Aviv, 2014. [Hebrew]


Shavit has also translated several children’s books into Hebrew, including E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, for which she received the "Hans Christian Andersen Certificate of Honor" for distinguished translation.[37]


  1. ^ "אוריה שביט". www.keter-books.co.il. Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  2. ^ "אבנר שביט", ויקיפדיה (in Hebrew), 2019-03-29, retrieved 2019-08-08
  3. ^ שוחט, ציפי (2004-01-18). "זהר שביט מונתה ליועצת לענייני תרבות לראש העיר תל אביב". TheMarker. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  4. ^ "תכירו: חברי המועצה החדשים". Ynet (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  5. ^ "שרת התרבות והספורט, ח"כ מירי רגב, ועמיתתה הממונה על התרבות והתקשורת בממשלת גרמניה פרופ' מוניקה גוטרס יעניקו פרסי תרגום עברית – גרמנית וגרמנית - עברית בטקס משותף בירושלים". GOV.IL (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  6. ^ "Highbrows With Lowbrow Concerns". Haaretz. 2002-02-07. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  7. ^ "ביאליק לכל ילד". Makor Rishon. Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  8. ^ "Staff and Acknowledgements | TLVFest". Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  9. ^ "Safeguarding Hebrew's Hidden Treasures". Haaretz. 2010-12-23. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  10. ^ "שירה ברחובות". ynet (in Hebrew). 2004-10-26. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  11. ^ "כולם רוצים שירים קצוצים?". ynet (in Hebrew). 2008-08-11. Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  12. ^ "Prof. Zohar Shavit". Tel Aviv University. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  13. ^ "היסטוריה - תולדות היישוב היהודי בא"י מאז העלייה הראשונה - בנייתה של תרבות ע". www.bialik-publishing.co.il. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  14. ^ Kimmerling, Baruch (1999). Shavit, Zohar (ed.). "The Roots of Zionist Culture". Middle East Studies Association Bulletin. 33 (2): 154–159. doi:10.1017/S0026318400039341. ISSN 0026-3184. JSTOR 23062408.
  15. ^ החיים הספרותיים בארץ-ישראל 1910-1933 - ספרות, משמעות, תרבות 13 - זהר שביט.
  16. ^ שילה, מרגלית; Shilo, Margalit (2000). שביט, זהר (ed.). "Another Contribution to the History of the Yishuv / נדבך נוסף בכתיבת תולדות היישוב". Cathedra: For the History of Eretz Israel and Its Yishuv / קתדרה: לתולדות ארץ ישראל ויישובה (96): 175–179. ISSN 0334-4657. JSTOR 23404485.
  17. ^ Shavit, Zohar (2009-11-01). Poetics of Children's Literature. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 9780820334813.
  18. ^ Ruth B. Bottigheimer, Eighteenth Century Life. Nov. 1993, 99. M.Bortolussi, Canadian Review. Dec 1991, 627-630.
  19. ^ "Über die Rezeption Erich Kästners in der hebräischen Kinder- und Jugendliteratur" [The Reception of Erich Kästner in Hebrew Children's and Youth Literature]. In Bernd Dolle-Weinkauff und Hans-Heino Ewers (Hrsg.). Erich Kästners weltweite Wirkung als Kinderschriftsteller. Peter Lang: Frankfurt a.M., Berlin, Bern, 2002, 275-286.
  20. ^ "Zwischen Kiner-Insel und Insu-Pu" [Between Kiner-Insel and Insu-Pu"]. In Heidi Lexe und Ernst Seibert. Mira Lobe… in aller Kinderwelt.Edition Praesens: Wien, 2005, 67-85 [German]
  21. ^ "Zu Hause und nicht zu Hause: Die Mehrfachzugehörigkeit von Mira Lobe" ["At Home and not at Home"]. Diaspora – Exil als Kriegserfahrung: Jüdische Bilanzen und Perspektiven. Theodor Kramer Gesellschaft, Drava Verlag: Wien, 2006, 306-329. [German]
  22. ^ in Zusammenarbeit mit Ran HaCohen und Annegret Völpel. Deutsch-jüdische Kinder- und Jugendliteratur. Von der Haskalah bis 1945. Die deutsch- und hebräischsprachigen Schriften des deutschsprachigen Raums. Ein bibliographisches Handbuch [German-Jewish Literature for Children and Adolescents. From the Haskalah to 1945. The German and Hebrew Texts in the German Speaking Area. A Bibliographical Handbook], Metzler Verlag: Stuttgart, 1996, 1495 Seiten. [German]
  23. ^ Deutsch-Jüdische Kinder- und Jugendliteratur. Ein literaturgeschichtlicher Grundriß. Metzler Verlag: Stuttgart Weimar, 2002, 465, Seiten [German-Jewish Literature for Children and Adolescents. A literary-historical outline]. [German]
  24. ^ "What do you do when you get up in the morning: The function of the Haskalah Library in the change which took place in the Jewish Habitus". In Shmuel Feiner, Zohar Shavit, Natalie Naimark-Goldberg, Tal Kogman (eds.). The Library of the Haskalah. Am Oved: Tel Aviv, 2014, 39-62]. [Hebrew]
  25. ^ "Haskala". www.haskala-library.net. Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  26. ^ "Innovation through Tradition?". Innovation through Tradition?. Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  27. ^ "Rousseau under Maimonides' Cloak: The strategy of introducing Enlightenment literature into the new Jewish library: The case of publication of paragraphs of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Émile in Hame’asef. Zion, 79:2, 2014, 135-174.
  28. ^ "Cultural Translation: Ideological and Model Adjustment in Translation of Children's Literature". In Gabriele von Glasenapp, Ute Dettmar, and Bernd Dolle-Weinkauff (eds.), Kinder- und Jugendliteraturforschung international: Ansichten und Aussichten. Peter Lang: Frankfurt am Main, 2014, 31-52.
  29. ^ "Innovation through Tradition? Jewish Educational Media and Cultural Transformation in the Face of Modernity". www.ghi-dc.org. Retrieved 2019-06-02.
  30. ^ Shavit, Zohar (2005-02-22). A Past Without Shadow: Constructing the Past in German Books for Children. Routledge. ISBN 9781135880699.
  31. ^ Winfred Kaminski, "Shavit Zohar: A Past without Shadow". Beiträge Jugendliteratur und Medie, 3, 2006, 220-221. Hamida Bosmajian, "Ever-Present Shadows of the Past". Children's Literature, 34, 2006, 231-238.
  32. ^ Nicole Colin, "La Shoah dans la littérature de jeunesse en langue allemande: face au récit dominant un autre récit?" revue d'histoire de la shoah, 201, 2014, 341-362.
  33. ^ Roger Boyes, "President Weizman tells Germans he cannot forgive". The Times, 17.1.1996. Michael Maier, "Die späten Folgen der frühen Lektüre". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 2.3.2000.
  34. ^ Koren, Yehuda (2000-01-07). "כך מספרים לילדי גרמניה על השואה [That's How German kids learned about the holocaust]" (PDF). Yedihot Ahronot. Retrieved 2019-06-05.
  35. ^ Shavit, Zohar (Spring 2017). "Can It Be That Our Dormant Language Has Been Wholly Revived?": Vision, Propaganda, and Linguistic Reality in the Yishuv Under the British Mandate"" (PDF). Israel Studies. 22: 101–138. doi:10.2979/israelstudies.22.1.05.
  36. ^ "אם ימות מר בן יהודה לפני שישלים את המילון, הוא ייקח אתו לקבר את כל האוצר". www.haaretz.co.il. Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  37. ^ "ALO docView - IBBY Honour List (1956-1980) (1956-1980)". www.literature.at. Retrieved 2019-06-04.

External linksEdit