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BA (Tel Aviv), MA (Chicago), PhD (Chicago)
Shaul Mitelpunkt is a lecturer in Modern History, specialising in 20th century U.S. and Israeli history. Shaul's publications and teaching interests span a variety of fields including cultural, diplomatic, and political history in the U.S., transnational history, gender, military and society, and the politics of leisure and pastime activities in the U.S., Israel, and in transnational exchange.
Shaul's 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. His work has also appeared in Gender & History and the Washington Post, among other outlets. Shaul regularly presents his work in international conferences, invited lectures, and workshops throughout Europe and the United States. His primary research languages are English, Hebrew, and German.Shaul joined the department at York in 2015 having previously held a postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University. He is currently serving as a member of the Teaching Committee of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.
Shaul's research examines the seam between cultural and political history with regards to the transnational histories of U.S. and the world, the changing attitudes towards military service as a civic duty in the U.S. and beyond, and Israeli history. In particular, he is interested in the relationship between state policies and popular imagination, and in the way both state and non-state actors influence political dynamics. Shaul welcomes inquiries from potential PhD students with related interests.
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 is currently working on his second book-length manuscript, temporarily titled 'The Rise and Fall of the Citizen-Soldier Disorder', which is a cultural and intellectual history of the problem of military service in American life from the 1940s to the 1970s. In 1973 the Selective Service System (in place since before American involvement in World War II) was scrapped, replaced by the All Volunteer Force which is still active today. This project asks how did Americans initially convince themselves that the state should have a moral right to put men in uniform, before swiftly changing their minds to claim (from the late 1960s onwards) that the draft was illegitimate and amoral. Crossing sources from many state and non-state archives from the papers of policymakers through production papers for popular films and the papers of military sociologists (among others), this project reveals the central place the problem of military service occupied deep in the cultural and intellectual fabric of late 20th century American life.
At the same time Shaul is working on a range of other research projects. One such project focuses on Abie Nathan, a Tel Aviv burger joint owner who in February 1966 illegally flew across the border to Egypt to negotiate peace. Nathan's flight turned him into an international celebrity, and he continued engaging in unofficial international diplomacy in the three decades that followed. Shaul is also working on articles investigating the politics of Israeli emigration to the U.S. in the 1970s, Bob Hope's long career as a military entertainer for American troops, the politics of Disney cartoons and Americanization in 1980s Israel, and the efforts of the American military government in post-World War II Munich to destroy Nazi monuments and establish alternative war monuments in their stead.