This article traces the relations between the 2017 vote of the Modern Language Association (MLA) against supporting the boycott of Israeli academic institutions and the practices of reading and literary interpretation upon which the MLA is founded. It argues that the MLA's affirmation of the exteriority of literature and literature studies to boycott advances a Bildungs-centric conception of language, literature, and self-understanding, which the MLA, through its vote, expansively promotes on a global scale—across literatures and languages. And it argues that the MLA, insofar as it advocates this bildungs-centrism, participates in a history of violence—of slavery, genocide, and settler colonialism—which remains constitutive for the formation of literary fields and objects of study. In doing so this article examines a single Hebrew-language novel, S. Yizhar's Khirbet Khizeh (1949), which dramatizes, in the colonization of Palestine, the relationships between reading, literary form, and death-imparting, genocidal violence.

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