Professor Nico Israel primarily works in modernist studies. He teaches and writes on twentieth-century British, Irish, European and United States literature (including novels, poetry and theatre) and on literary and critical theory (especially theory informed by continental philosophy). He has also published in the fields of post-/de-colonial and globalization studies; and on visual art, art history, and visual culture.
Professor Israel is the author of two books, Spirals: The Whirled Image in Twentieth-Century Literature and Art (Columbia, 2015) and Outlandish: Writing between Exile and Diaspora (Stanford, 2000). His most recent publications include an essay on the collection of visual art in the United Nations New York Headquarters (2020); on Samuel Beckett’s theater and fiction and Giorgio Agamben’s conception of “the gag” (in the Cambridge collection Modernism, Postcolonialism, and Globalism, 2019); and on the constructed international language Esperanto, James Joyce's novels Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, and the relation between language-as-such and gesture (2017). He is currently working on a book project reconsidering modernist universalisms.
He has lectured widely–both domestically (at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Duke, Virginia, SUNY Buffalo, Oklahoma State, Otis College of Art and Design, and DIA-Beacon), and internationally (in France, Britain, Australia, Colombia and Cuba). Essays of his have been translated into French, German, Polish, Spanish and Euskera (Basque). He has also published some seventy-five reviews, catalogue essays and other writings on visual art, many of them for Artforum magazine.
He has been on the faculty of the English Program of the CUNY Graduate Center since 2009. Recent courses he has taught include “Literature’s Wake” (on Joyce’s Finnegans Wake) and “Beckett and Sustainability” (on Samuel Beckett’s literature, theatre, and critical writings from 1930-1989).