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. He has published over twenty critical essays (on Joseph Conrad, Theodor Adorno, Salman Rushdie, Wallace Stevens, 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 ninety 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 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, On Spirals: Metamorphosis of a Twentieth-Century Image, 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 2014. The book explores intersections among literature, contemporary art and critical theory from 1899-2001, and focuses on the spiral as geopolitical and historical “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, W. G. Sebald, Umberto Boccioni, Vladimir Tatlin, Marcel Duchamp, Robert Smithson, Eva Hesse, and William Kentridge. His other forthcoming publications include two completed chapters in essay collections both currently at press—one on Samuel Beckett and Visual Art in the collection Beckett in Context (Cambridge UP, 2013) and one entitled “Re-envisioning Yeats’ Vision: Modernist Spirality and the Distribution of the Sensible” in The Blackwell Companion to British Literature, eds. Robert DeMaria, Heesok Chang, and Samantha Zacher (Blackwell, 2013).
He is currently working on an essay, "Beckett and the Colonial Gag," exploring the work of Beckett and the philosophers Giorgio Agamben and Alain Badiou, to be published in Modernism and Postcolonialism: Anglophone Literature from 1948 to the Present, eds. Richard Begam and Michael Moses (Oxford UP, 2014), and plans to complete, by the end of 2013, a piece on the relation between the constructed international auxiliary language Esperanto and James Joyce’s novels Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.
Recent undergraduate and master's seminars taught at Hunter include: “Modernist Poetry and Poetics” (2012), “High Modernisms” and "James Joyce" (2011), "Beyond Human Rights?" and "Beckett and Sustainability" (2010), “American Modernisms” (2009) and "On Spirals" (2008). Since 2009. Prof Israel has also been on the faculty of the English Department of the CUNY Graduate Center.