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Shaul Mitelpunkt
Senior Lecturer in Modern History

Profile

Biography

BA (Tel Aviv), MA (Chicago), PhD (Chicago)

Shaul Mitelpunkt is a Senior Lecturer in Modern History, specialising in 20th century U.S. history. Shaul's publications and teaching interests span a variety of fields including cultural, diplomatic, military, and political history in the U.S. and in the transnational contexts. Shaul is currently working on a book project titled ‘The Military Mystique’, which examines the fantasies Americans developed regarding military labor between the 1940s and the early 21st century, how they changed, and why they matter. He is also writing an essay about the political functions of representations of sad Soviet soldiers in American popular culture during the draft era, and an essay on militarism in a transnational context. Shaul's first book Israel in the American Mind: the Cultural Politics of U.S.-Israeli Relations, 1958-1988 (Cambridge University Press, 2018) examines the changing meanings Americans and Israelis invested in the relationship between their countries from the late 1950s to the 1980s. Shaul’s work appeared in Diplomatic History, Modern American History, and Gender & History, among other outlets. 

Shaul joined the department at York in 2015 having previously held a postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University. He is a member of the editorial board for the journal Modern American History. During the 2023/4 year Shaul is on a Leverhulme research fellowship for his work on the project ‘The Military Mystique’.

Contact details

Dr Shaul Mitelpunkt
Vanbrugh College V/A/225
Department of History
University of York
Heslington
York
YO10 5DD

Tel: Internal 4889, External (01904) 324889

Student hours

Research

Overview

Shaul Mitelpunkt is a historian of 20th century U.S. history, specialising in military, cultural, and diplomatic history. Shaul is currently working on a book project titled ‘The Military Mystique’. Military Mystique examines the fantasies Americans developed regarding military labor between the 1940s and the early 21st century, how they changed, and why they matter. It asks how Americans transitioned from upholding one logic defining the division of military labor, to championing its opposite: from the era when the citizen-soldier ethos was broadly embraced (1940-1973) to the era when the All-Volunteer Force (1973- present day) came to be accepted as normative. The premise of the study is that a sober recognition of the terms of military labor was too unattractive – and so Americans shrouded it in mystique. Building on a wide array of archival sources from government, military, cultural production, through reportage, Shaul examines the strategies American politicians, writers, scholars, and artists adopted to normalise the draft, and thirty years later, to take it apart. Shaul’s research on this project has been supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2023/4) and by a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (2021/2). In addition Shaul is currently co-convening, with Charlotta Salmi and Oleg Benesch, the History and Graphic Narrative project, which will appear in a series of publications in the American Historical Review. 

Shaul's first monograph Israel in the American Mind: The Cultural Politics of US-Israeli Relations, 1958-1988 (Cambridge University Press, 2018) examines the intricate mechanisms that brought Israel to occupy such a central place in American imagination and policy. Relying on a broad array of American and Israeli sources from state and non-state archives the book places the relationship deep in the cultural, social, intellectual, and ideological landscapes of both societies. By revealing the role Israeli propaganda played in shaping American attitudes towards Israel and paying close attention to the dramatic changes in the meanings Americans and Israelis invested in the relationship between countries, the book reveals US-Israeli relations as a terrain of fantasy, manipulation, competition, and envy.

Shaul’s work has also appeared in Diplomatic History, Modern American History, Gender & History, and the Journal for Modern Jewish Studies, among other outlets. Shaul would welcome interest from potential PhD students on U.S. military history, cultural history, as well as diplomatic history. 

Teaching

Undergraduate

  •  (first year Period Topic module)
  • Righteous Might: American Politics and Society since 1877 (second year Histories and Contexts module)
  • The Pursuit of Happiness: The Politics of Leisure and Pastime in Twentieth-Century America (second year Explorations module)
  • Fantasy & Friction: US-Middle East Relations from 1945 (third year module)

Postgraduate

  •  (MA Option module)

Student Hours