ABOUT THE FELLOW
Linda Dittmar grew up in in Israel during its formative years (1939-1960) as the country transitioned from British Mandatory rule, through World War II, into Israel’s “War of Independence” (1948) that is the “Nakba”—the catastrophe—for the Palestinians. She served in the Israeli military, attended the Hebrew University, and moved to the U.S. in 1961, studying at CCNY and Stanford University (English Ph.D.1970). The U.S. she found was not the glossy image projected abroad. Living on the outskirts of New York’s Harlem, she saw Freedom Riders recruited on campus. At Stanford she heard echoes of Berkley’s Free Speech movement, the Black Panthers’ organizing in Oakland, the farm workers striking, and the anti-war movement erupting. This was not the America she imagined.
Prof. Dittmar’s life as a scholar, educator, and member of society were shaped by this experience. Her doctoral dissertation’s focus on modernist narration, already raised questions of ethics, politics, and engagement—questions that continued to inform her scholarship and teaching of both literature and film. Her books, From Hanoi to Hollywood; The Vietnam War in American Film, and Multiple Voices in Feminist Film Criticism, are indebted also to an NEH funded seminar in film theory. In all her writing, including editorial work for the magazine, Radical Teacher, intersections of gender, ethnicity, social class, and post-colonialism are key concerns.
Linda Dittmar taught at the young, vibrant, urban University of Massachusetts-Boston (UMB) for almost forty years, where her innovative and cross-disciplinary teaching was welcome. Between 1969 and 2007 she pioneered courses for her department, English, as well as American Studies, Women’s Studies, and a Law and Justice Program. Most recently, she taught Israeli and Palestinian fiction. Winner of UMB’s Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and two Fulbright grants to India, the latter as Distinguished Chair, she also taught twice at Tel Aviv University and at the University of Paris and Turfts University. Having Chaired a Task Force on Race for the Society for Cinema studies (SCS), she was elected to the SCS’s Executive Council, and chaired its Annual Program.
Now Professor Emerita, Dittmar is writing a memoir of Israel’s “War of Independence” (1948) and the catastrophe it meant to the Palestinians. It based on collaboration with photographer Deborah Bright, there they combed the country to locate depopulated Palestinian villages. Two short segments are now in print with three other chapters accepted for publications in Concerns and Jewish Currents.