Benjamin Harshav is Professor of Comparative Literature, J.& H. Blaustein Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature; and Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Yale University. Professor Emeritus of Literary Theory and Poetics, Tel Aviv University. Founding Editor, Poetics Today (Duke University Press). Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Harshav launched the “Tel-Aviv School of Poetics,” built the dept. for Poetics and Comparative Literature at Tel-Aviv University (1966), and the Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics (“For the Study of Literature and Culture”). He founded and edited the academic journals: HaSifrut / Literature: Theory –Poetics – Hebrew and Comparative Literature; a series of scholarly books Literature Meaning Culture (both in Hebrew); PTL (Poetics and Theory of Literature) and Poetics Today (both international journals in English). He served as Visiting Professor at several American universities and was a Fellow of the National Humanities Center in North Carolina; the Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin; the Dutch Organization for Pure Science ZWO, and the Oxford Center for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies.
Harshav published widely, especially in Hebrew and in English, on literary theory, semiotics of culture, prosody, Comparative and Hebrew literature. His writings appeared in twelve languages. In the nineteen sixties-eighties he published a series of essays on basic problems in poetics (The Structure of Semiotic Objects, Integrational Semantics, Fictionality and Fields of Reference, Theory of the Literary Text and the Structure of Non-Narrativge Fiction, The Role of Language in Modern Art, Theory of Metaphor and Poetic Fiction, The Meaning of Sound Patterns in Poetry). Most were gathered in five volumes of his Collected Writings in Hebrew.
His books in English include: American Yiddish Poetry, Language in Time of Revolution , The Meaning of Yiddish (Stanford University Press), The Last Days of the Jerusalem of Lithuania: Chronicles from Vilna Ghetto and the Camps 1939-1944 (Yale UP), Marc Chagall and his Times: A Documentary Narrative (Stanford UP, 1,026 pages), Marc Chagall on Art and Culture (Stanford UP), Marc Chagall and the Lost Jewish World: On the Nature of his Art and Iconography (Rizzoli), The Rift in Time: Time in the Art of Space (on the abstract painter Kupferman). Two volumes of collected essays in English, Explorations in Poetics and The Polyphony of Jewish Culture are in press (Stanford UP).
Harshav translated ten volumes of poetry from several languages into Hebrew – e.g., Exile of the Poets (the poetry of Bertolt Brecht) and the anthology Modern Poetry -- and (with Barbara Harshav) several volumes into English (e.g. A Life of Poetry: 1948-1994 by Yehuda Amichai).
Harshav is the recipient of the Uri-Zvi Grinberg Jerusalem Prize for the Study of Poetry and the Koret Jewish Book Award (USA) for the best Biography or Literary Study in 2004, for his book Marc Chagall and his Times. Two volumes of Aderet le-Binyamin: Festschrift for B.Harshav on his Seventieth Birthday appeared in Hebrew at Tel-Aviv University and three issues of a Harshav Festschrift were published in English in Poetics Today. Harshav was awarded the highest Israeli prize: the EMET Prize (= Art, Science, Culture) for 2005.