Nico Israel's areas of expertise include twentieth century British, Irish, U.S. and European literature; literary and critical theory; and art history and visual culture. His first book, Outlandish: Writing between Exile and Diaspora, was published by Stanford University Press in 2000. Outlandish addressed geographical displacement as a lived experience in the twentieth century, as a predicament of writing, and as a problem for theory. Engaging the cusp between modernist and post-colonial studies, the book theorized a mode of reading between exile and diaspora—two fundamentally different descriptions of displacement. Prof. Israel has published over twenty critical essays (on Joseph Conrad, Theodor Adorno, Salman Rushdie, Wallace Stevens, W.B. Yeats, and Samuel Beckett, and on questions concerning geography, globalization and ethics) and book reviews (on high and late modernism, critical theory, and travel literature). He has also published over seventy-five pieces on visual art (catalogue essays, previews and reviews for Artforum on contemporary art exhibitions-- with special focus on art and the global market).
Prof. Israel has lectured widely both domestically (at Harvard, Yale, Duke, Oklahoma State, Otis College of Art and Design, and DIA-Beacon), and abroad (in France, Britain, Australia, Colombia and Cuba). He has participated in more than two-dozen academic conferences, and essays of his have been translated into French, German, Polish, Spanish and Euskera (Basque).
His current book project, Spirals: A Whirled History of Twentieth-Century Literature and Art, is under contract with Columbia University Press, in the new Modernist Latitudes series (edited by Paul Saint Amour and Jessica Berman), and is due out in late 2014. The book explores intersections among literature, contemporary art and critical theory from 1898-2002, and focuses on the spiral as “image” in the sense Walter Benjamin gives to the term. Figures discussed include Alfred Jarry, Wyndham Lewis, Ezra Pound, W. B. Yeats, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Augusto de Campos, W. G. Sebald, Umberto Boccioni, Vladimir Tatlin, Marcel Duchamp, Robert Smithson, William Kentridge, and Melanie Smith & Rafael Ortega.
Nico Israel is currently completing two essays, "Beckett and the Colonial Gag," exploring the work of Beckett and the philosopher Giorgio Agamben, to be published in late 2014 in Modernism and Postcolonialism: Anglophone Literature from 1948 to the Present, eds. Richard Begam and Michael Moses (Oxford UP, 2014) and a still-untitled essay on the relation between the constructed international auxiliary language Esperanto and James Joyce’s novels Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.
Prof. Israel joined the Graduate Center faculty in 2009. Recent courses he has taught at the GC include “On Spirals: Modernism and Its Aftermaths (2013), “High Modernisms” (2011), “Beyond Human Rights?” (2010), and “Beckett and Sustainability (2009). He also teaches at Hunter College, and has taught previously at Paris VIII, Otis College of Art and Design, Duke University, NYU, Bard College, Williams College, NYU, and Columbia and Yale Universities.