The University of Southampton
EnglishPart of Humanities
Phone:
(023) 8059 2470
Email:
D.M.Baum@soton.ac.uk

Dr Devorah Baum 

Associate Professor in English Literature and Critical Theory

Dr Devorah Baum's photo
Related links

Dr Devorah Baum is an Associate Professor in English Literature and Critical Theory at the University of Southampton. She is also attached to the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non Jewish Relations.

My book Feeling Jewish (A Book for Just About Anyone) (Yale University Press) came out in 2017. It delves into fiction (especially American), film, and memoir to explore feelings that have been stereotypically associated with modern Jews – self-hatred, guilt, resentment, paranoia, anxiety, hysteria, overbearing maternal love - and analyses why such feelings may be increasingly common to us all as the pace of globalization leaves many feeling marginalized, uprooted, and existentially threatened. One chapter from the book has been extracted and adapted for a long read essay in The Guardian, and the book has also inspired a New York Times Sunday Review essay and other essays, talks and blogposts, e.g. here.

The Jewish Joke (Profile Books) also came out in 2017. It curates classic and new jokes and asks why it is, given that jokes tend not to travel all that well, that Jewish jokes have survived a long and treacherous history and been able to move across national, class and temporal boundaries without having to rewrite their punchlines. The book examines jokes whose precise origins are unknown as well as the work of known authors and comedians, primarily but not exclusively American. The book has been the subject of radio and press interviews and has been the focus of public events where I’ve been in conversation about jokes and how to understand them with comedians.

My earlier research focussed predominantly on the role of religion in modern and contemporary politics, literature and philosophy.  In a West glossed as ‘secular,’ hostility towards migrants and diasporic groups has often been predicated on an imputed primitivism or even barbarism to their religions and religiosity – as if Western culture were not itself deeply formed by its own religious heritage.  It is this disavowal of religion that I examine at length in a number of articles and book chapters.  And by reflecting on how language as such might be said to position the subject in an inherently ‘faithful’ relation, I also suggest alternative ways of encountering religious difference and religious ideas in politics, poetics, and in the modern university. 

The documentary feature film I co-directed, The New Man (2016), funded by the Wellcome Trust, looks at a female experience, pregnancy, from a predominantly male point of view, tracking the migration of hysterical feelings into a twenty-first century man, who feels replaced by not only the prospect of a baby at his wife’s breast, but by new reproductive technologies in the bedroom, and by women in a global workplace. Theatrically released, the film has been widely reviewed across the UK print, radio and television media and has had numerous special event screenings and also been screened in academic contexts as well as in education and training contexts for use by midwives and psychotherapist groups. It has also been the subject of a conversational feature in Granta Magazine.

I have spoken about my research and interests at community centres, commercial centres and public institutions including the Southbank Centre, The Royal Society of Literature (RSL), the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), the London Film School (LFS), the Royal Albert Hall, the Philadelphia Association (PA), JW3, The Freud MuseumThe London Review BookshopMcNally Jackson Bookshop (Manhattan), Daunts Bookshop and King’s Place.

I have been interviewed about my research and interests for a number of BBC TV and Radio programmes, including Radio 3’s Free Thinking (and here), BBC2’s Newsnight, Radio 4’s Front Row, news programmes, and TV and Radio documentaries.

In October 2017 my research was the subject of a feature profile in Times Higher Education.

Devorah Baum talks with Mark Oppenheimer about her book Feeling Jewish from jappignanesi on Vimeo.

Research

Publications

Teaching

Contact

Research interests

I plan to further develop the research undertaken in my two books for journal articles on the feelings I have dealt with only indirectly in my monograph such as nostalgia and despair, and on the use of joking, sarcasm, irony, satire and humour in a range of modern political contexts.

Following the release of my co-directed feature film, I am also researching the ‘crisis’ of C21st masculinity, gendered creativity, and the work of conception in the age of technological reproduction.

Drawing on some of my previous work, especially reflections on what might be implied by the notion of ‘being saved,’ whether by a religion, a politics, or a philosophy, and my work on ancient and modern conceptions of security, geographical, psychological and otherwise, I’m beginning to theorise a future research project concerning the highly contentious concept of ‘safe space’ in its various guises, including that of the university campus and the sanctuary city.

I will be pleased to discuss applications for postgraduate study in the following areas: feelings and affects in modern and contemporary culture and literature, in particular ‘negative’ feelings such as guilt, self-hatred, paranoia, anxiety and envy; the uses and abuses of knowledge; the rise of conspiracy theory in the information age; pregnancy and motherhood; life-writing and documentary film; the return of religion; the influence of religion on contemporary literature and philosophy; the relationship between religion and psychoanalysis; Jewish literature and philosophy; joking; essaying; as well as more generally hermeneutics, critical theory, Jacques Derrida, psychoanalysis, and post-war American literature and culture.

Articles

Books

Book Chapters

  • Baum, D. (2016). The return of religion: secularization and its discontents. In M. Knight (Ed.), The Routledge Companion to Literature and Religion (pp. 80-88). Oxford, GB: Routledge.
  • Baum, D. (2015). Life writing and the East End. In D. Brauner, & A. Stähler (Eds.), The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction (pp. 221-236). Edinburgh, GB: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Baum, D. (2015). Nothing and the Jews. In H. Ewence, & H. Spurling (Eds.), Visualizing Jews Through the Ages: Literary and Material Representations of Jewishness and Judaism (pp. 78-90). Oxford: Routledge.
  • Baum, D. (2011). Textuality. In N. Valman, & L. Roth (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to Modern Jewish Cultures Routledge.
  • Baum, D. (2009). Nothing and the Jews. In J. Armleder (Ed.), Voids: a Retrospective (pp. 16-22). Zurich, Switzerland: JPR/Ringier.

Creative Media and Artefacts

  • Baum, D. (Author), & Appignanesi, J. (Author). (2016). The New Man. The Creative Life Film Company Ltd..

For our undergraduate degree, I teach two first-year modules, The Act of the Essay and Theory & Criticism, two second year modules, Scriptwriting and Jewish Fictions (also open to third years), and two third year modules, Post-War American Jewish Literature and the Dissertation module.  I also supervise dissertations and doctoral theses on our postgraduate courses, and teach on a number of different disciplinary and interdisciplinary MA modules for English, History and the Parkes Institute (in Southampton and London). 

I am the director of taught postgraduate programmes for English.

Dr Devorah Baum
Faculty of Humanities University of Southampton Avenue Campus Highfield Southampton SO17 1BF United Kingdom

Room Number:65/2031

Share this profile Share this on Facebook Share this on Google+ Share this on Twitter Share this on Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×