Ruth Tsoffar is an Associate Professor Comparative Literature and Women's Studies and Faculty Associate in the Frankel Institute for advanced Jewish Studies.
Ruth received her PhD in the Near Eastern Studies Department from The University of California, Berkeley, and has been teaching at the University of Michigan after a short teaching position at Utah University. She is the author of The Stains of Culture: An Ethno-Reading of Karaite Jewish Women, (Wayne State University Press, 2006) Part of the Raphael Patai Series in Jewish Folklore and Anthropology, the book was awarded the Elli Kongas Miranda Prize & the National Jewish Book Award finalist.
Tsoffar’s earlier work on Israeli ethnicity focused on the intersection of body, gender and poetry and was published at Hagar in two complimentary studies, "’The Body that Crumbled’: Mizrahi Men Writing Poetic Anatomy, Part I”. And “Dissected Identity: Mizrahi Women, Space and Body, Part II” Other works on poetry include her study of Yona Wallach and specifically on issues of sexuality and theatricality in the poem Tefillin.
Ongoing projects include the book, “‘Cannibal ideology: The Violence of Texts and Bodies in Hebrew Cultures,” A second project includes an ethnographic memoir on Jamusin, a Palestinian neighborhood in Northern Tel Aviv that was resettled in the early fifties by Jews of Middle Eastern origin and has now been replaced by the real estate “Akirov towers” in Tel Aviv.
Scholarly Interests: Feminism, sexuality and gender in multicultural society; colonialism, ethnicity, and nationalism, poetry and poetics, theories of reading, Israeli, Jewish and Palestinian literatures, Biblical narratives, ethnography and folklore.
Teaching interests include courses such as “The Alternative Jewish Bookshelf,” and “Home, Homeland and Homelessness: Israel and Palestine,” Women, Bible, Reading,” and graduate seminars on Diversity.
The Stains of Culture: An Ethno-Reading of Karaite Jewish Women, Raphael Patai Series in Jewish Folklore and Anthropology, Wayne State University Press, January 2006. Elli Kongas Miranda Prize & National Jewish Book Award finalist.
“Staging Sexuality: Reading Wallach's Poetry," Hebrew Studies, Vol. 43, 2002: 87-117. Also in Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Winter 2006)
"The Body as a Storyteller: Karaite Women's Experience of Blood and Milk," Journal of American Folklore, 117:1 (463) (Winter 2004): 3-21.
"’The Body that Crumbled’: Mizrahi Men Writing Poetic Anatomy, Part I,” HAGAR Studies in Culture, Polity and Identities Vol. 4 (1-2), 2003: 89-112.
“Baghdad-Tel Aviv: Round trip to the Promised Land,” Social Thought and Commentary Section, Anthropological Quarterly 79:1 (Winter 2006): 133-144.
“’A Land that Devours its People:’ Mizrahi Writing from the Gut,” Body & Society, Vol. 12 (2): 25-55, 2006.
“Forget Baghdad (2003): Jews and Arabs— the Iraqi Connection,” In North African and Middle Eastern Cinema, Wallflower Press/Columbia University Press: London, May 2007.
“Dissected Identity: Mizrahi Women, Space and Body, Part II” HAGAR Studies in Culture, Polity and Identities Vol. 7 (2) 2007: 35-66.
“The Trauma of Otherness and Hunger: Ruth and Lot’s Daughters,” Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal Vol. 5 (1), 2007.