Shaul Mitelpunkt
Lecturer in Modern History

Profile

Biography

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

I'm a lecturer in 20th century U.S. History with particular fascination with the relationship between domestic affairs and transnational interactions. My research interests include U.S. and the World, war and society, gender, and the politics of cultural production. My 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. My recent article 'The Tank Driver who Ran with Poodles' has appeared in a Special Issue of Gender and Historyentitled Gender, Imperialism, and Global Exchange.
 
I joined the department at York in 2015 having previously taught at Northwestern University and at the University of Chicago in the USA.

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

Research

Overview

My book Israel in the American Mind: The Cultural Politics of US-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. Bringing to light previously unexamined sources, this study is the first to investigate the intricate mechanisms that defined and redefined Israel's place in American imagination through the war-strewn 1960s and 1970s. Departing from traditional diplomatic histories that focus on the political elites alone, the book places the relationship deep in the cultural, social, intellectual, and ideological landscapes of both societies. Examining Israeli propaganda operations in America, it also pays close attention to the way Israelis manipulated and responded to American perceptions of their country, and reveals the reservations some expressed towards their country's relationship with the United States. My 2014 article titled The Tank Driver Who Ran with Poodles (Gender and History, 2014) looks at some of these questions.

I am currently working on a book-length manuscript titled 'Civilian Empire' - which provides a cultural history examining the changing place of military service in American imagination in the 1970s. In 1973 the Selective Service System (in place since 1949) was scrapped, replaced by the All Volunteer Force which is still active today. More than solely a legal or organizational shift, I argue, this change transformed the moral, aesthetic, and ideological explanations Americans devised for the reduced role of military exploits in their lives. The right not to fight became an enshrined (if under-acknowledged) privilege of middle class American life, even as the country's actual military apparatus and active military engagement abroad continued and grew in the decades since. The transformation to the All Volunteer Force encouraged Americans to see their nation and its place in the world in starkly civilian terms, even as some foreigners met the rough edges of American militarized power far more directly.

Another project titled 'The Diplomatic Pirate' looks at Abie Nathan, a Tel Aviv burger joint owner who in February 1966 picked up an airplane and 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. I am also working on an article examining the politics of denazification efforts conducted by the American military government in post-World War II Germany through a study of built environment. This project uses sources from the US National Archives in Maryland as well as the Bundesarchiv in Berlin and the municipal archives in Munich to explore commemoration struggles around the destruction and construction of war monuments in late 1940s Bavaria and Berlin.

I would be interested to hear from prospective research students working on subjects including cultural diplomacy and propaganda, military conscription and civilian society, or the politics of cultural production in the mid and late 20th century US and beyond.

Teaching

Undergraduate

Postgraduate

The United States in the World since 1945 (MA Option module)