Naomi B. Sokoloff

Project Description

Portrait of Naomi Sokoloff, wearing glasses, scarf and suit jacket, in front of bushes

Professor, Departments of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures and Comparative Literature

Israel Studies Program Chair

Contact Information:
Phone: (206) 543-2049
Office: Denny Hall, 220F
More Information:
Personal Website

Faculty Profile

Naomi Sokoloff’s research and teaching focus primarily on Modern Jewish Literature, with special attention to Hebrew. Her book, What We Talk About When We Talk About Hebrew (And What it Means to Americans) celebrates the vitality of Modern Hebrew and addresses the challenges and joys of being a Hebraist in America in the twenty-first century. Co-edited with Nancy E. Berg and published by the University of Washington Press (2018), this volume won a National Jewish Book Award. Sokoloff’s most recent book, also co-edited with Nancy E. Berg, is Since 1948: Israeli Literature in the Making (SUNY Press, 2020). This volume features a dozen essays that explore shifting linguistic, geographical, cultural, and artistic boundaries of Israeli writing. The contributors analyze texts composed in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Arabic, by Jews and non-Jews, by Israelis abroad as well as writers in Israel, and by canonical and non-canonical authors.

Sokoloff has published widely on Israeli and American literature, commenting on work by, among others, Diane Ackerman, S.Y. Agnon, Yehuda Amichai, Aharon Appelfeld, Louis Begley, Ch.N. Bialik, Alona Frankel, David Grossman, Primo Levi, Etgar Keret, Jerzy Kosinski, Primo Levi, Savyon Liebrecht, Rutu Modan, Yehoshua November, Cynthia Ozick, Hava Pinhas-Cohen, Gabriel Preil, Haim Plutzik, Henry Roth, Philip Roth, Avraham Shlonsky, and Myra Sklarew. Among the topics discussed in her books and articles: responses to the Holocaust, gender and women’s voices in literature, modern poetry in relation to traditional prayer, representations of childhood in fiction, and children’s literature.

Prof. Sokoloff has been active in establishing the program in Global Literary Studies at UW, and she has often taught a course for the Honors Program called Seattle: Reading and Writing the City.

Her publications include Imagining the Child in Modern Jewish Fiction (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992) and a number of edited volumes: Gender and Text in Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literature (The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1992); Infant Tongues: The Voice of the Child in Literature (Wayne State University Press, 1994); Israel and America: Cross Cultural Encounters and the Literary Imagination (a special issue of the journal Shofar, 1998); Traditions and Transitions in Israel Studies: Books on Israel, Vol. VI (SUNY Press , 2002); The Jewish Presence in Children’s Literature (a special issue of The Lion and the Unicorn, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003); and “Boundaries of Jewish Identity”, edited with Susan A. Glenn (UW Press, 2010). She has served on the editorial boards of Prooftexts, Shofar, and Hebrew Studies.

Learn more about modern Hebrew at the University of Washington:
Read about the latest in Hebrew and Israeli art and culture, and learn more about modern Hebrew course offerings, on Naomi Sokoloff’s modern Hebrew page.