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Henry Israeli Appointed Director of Jewish Studies


July 1, 2021

Henry Israeli

Associate Teaching Professor Henry Israeli, from the Department of English and Philosophy, has been appointed to the position of Director of Jewish Studies, effective Fall 2021, to lead the planning and implementation of a range of initiatives to increase the visibility of the program both inside and outside the University while developing a strategic plan in collaboration with Amelia Hoover Green, PhD, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Israeli is the recipient of an MFA in Creative Writing and an MFA in Theater Arts from the University of Iowa. He joined Drexel University in 2004, bringing expertise in creative writing with an emphasis on poetry and translation. Israeli is a prolific writer who has published many books, most recently, Our Age of Anxiety (White Pine Press Poetry Prize, 2019), and god's breath hovering across the waters (Four Way Books 2016), as well as three books in translation of Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku. In addition to these books, he has published more than 100 poems and translations in journals including American Poetry Review, Copper Nickel, Bennington Review, and The Iowa Review, as well as in several anthologies. In his career as a poet, he has written extensively about his own family’s experience in the Holocaust, as well as the multi-generational trauma experienced by survivors and their children.

To support his creative work, Israeli has had great success securing external funding. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Canada Council on the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council, and residencies from Yeshiva University, the MacDowell Colony and the Artists’ Museum, Israel. He is the founder and editor of Saturnalia Books, a nationally distributed publisher of contemporary poetry.

Israeli regularly teaches courses such as Poetry Writing, Readings in Poetry and Literature of Genocide. In 2021, he will be initiating a course in the poetic works of T.S. Eliot. Israeli’s teaching philosophy is best summed up as inquiry-based and self-directed exploratory learning. His emphasis is on encouraging his students to challenge themselves creatively and critically. His classes are largely discussion based, allowing students to formulate conclusions based on serious critical thinking.

Additionally, Israeli has a strong record in administrative work, serving as Associate Director of the Certificate in Writing and Publishing (2012-2017) and Director of the Drexel Writing Festival since 2016. As Director of the Drexel Writing Festival, he annually plans and organizes a week of readings, multimedia lectures, workshops, concerts and panels. He also manages the budget, scheduling and contractual issues.

As Director of Jewish Studies, Israeli aims to build a broad curriculum for Jewish Studies by fostering transdisciplinary relationships with other departments and programs at Drexel.