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The Parkes Institute

Our Students

Below is a list of some of our postgraduate students’ research on topics related to Jewish History and Culture:

Adam Groves

I am currently studying the MA in Jewish History and Culture, which has been a very enjoyable and intellectually stimulating experience. The close-knit atmosphere at the Parkes Institute has made me feel part of a wider intellectual community. At the same time, the course has introduced me to a variety of different historical periods and theoretical concepts. My main research interests are media studies (the representation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Britain) and memory (the interrelations among different memories within and between Israeli and Palestinian societies). For my MA dissertation, I am comparing British media responses to Jewish refugees in the 1930s with modern-day responses to Syrian refugees.    

Sam Hawkins

My thesis, titled ‘Representations of the Jewish Immigrant Experience, 1880-1914’, seeks to reveal how the first, second and third generation of immigrant Jewry have represented their settlement experiences. It will show how the passage of time has shaped these representations, exploring how the romanticised and positive images of Jewish settlement in the East End which are generally held today, grew out of English hostility and contemporary defensive images which Anglo-Jewry and the immigrants themselves constructed at the time. My PhD uses an array of visual sources, memoirs and oral interviews, and I am supervised by Professor Tony Kushner and Dr Claire Le Foll. 

Maja Hultman

My thesis is on ‘Mapping Jewish Life in Stockholm: The Urban Space of the Jewish Community during the Rise of Modernity in the Swedish Metropolis, 1870-1939’. My investigation of the constructions, reconstructions and uses of spaces and places by the Jewish community in the urban landscape of Stockholm reveals the multiple identities that co-existed within this relatively small European-Jewish group. The project maps the community’s homes, religious meeting places and clubs, analyses the creation of synagogues and religious schools, and traces the movements of Jewish individuals as they walk through the city. The aim is to show how these inter-communal, individual differences were expressed through the spatial dimensions, and ultimately suggest that the existence of several identities developed as a result of the emerging modern urbanity rather than the size of the Jewish community.  

Jennifer Lewis

My Ph.D thesis is on ‘Bareknuckle, Prizefighting and the BUF: An Exploration of Masculinity, Identity and Imagery of Heavyweight Champion Joe Beckett’ and is supervised by Tony Kushner and Joan Tumblety. My work is a case study on the former 1920s British heavyweight champion and how his career as a professional boxer and later in British fascism represented masculinity and identity in the twentieth century. The thesis has a chronological approach, primarily due to the biographical content and discusses Beckett's Britishness and masculinity from his fairground boxing booth days to his internment as a British Union of Facist member in the 1940s.

Danielle Lockwood

I began my academic journey as mature student, taking a BA in History when my children were still at secondary school and now, as a doctoral student, am delighted that my youngest son is in his second year at Southampton studying Oceanography. I feel immensely fortunate to have been associated with Parkes in a number of different capacities:  as an MA student, as a doctoral student, and as the Cohen Outreach Doctoral Fellow. I have always felt supported academically, secure in the guidance I receive from my supervisors and generally inspired by the stimulating academic environment. My doctoral research looks at the lives and careers of South African Jewish emigres in British entertainment including figures who are now firmly established members of Britain’s cultural establishment: Sir Ronald Harwood, Sir Antony Sher, Dame Janet Suzman and Herbert Kretzmer OBE.  The aim of the research is to understand the connection this group maintains to both their Jewish heritage and South African backgrounds.  

Abi McKee

I am researching ballet music in Paris during the Nazi Occupation, and am working with Dr Shirli Gilbert and Dr Joan Tumblety. I also write for the ORT Music and the Holocaust website. I previously studied music at the University of Sheffield where I received a BMus and MMus, researching ballet music in Paris and London during the first half of the twentieth century. I really enjoy being part of the postgraduate community here at Southampton, particularly the opportunities to participate in doctoral seminars and attend the Parkes lecture series. 

Grace Paul

I study for the MA in Jewish History and Culture at the University of Southampton. My speciality is the Holocaust, and I research the different methods of remembering and commemorating the Holocaust. The Parkes department at the university is great. The staff are all very helpful and friendly, and the vast range of resources available for those studying Jewish history is incredibly valuable. I love the seminars which are held by the Parkes department; there are a range of speakers that are invited to present their research in evening seminars, which are always interesting and worthwhile. I shall be sad to leave the University of Southampton!

Katie Power

My thesis, titled 'From shund to kunst? Yiddish theatre in London, 1939-1970, examines the Yiddish theatres in London's East End from the outbreak of the Second World War through to the closure of the last remaining theatre in 1970. This research, which is supervised by Dr Claire Le Foll and Dr James Jordan, will contribute to our understanding of European Jewish history, documenting the emergence of modern secular Jewish culture in London through the development of YIddish theatres, their repertoires and audiences. I am also a member of the Parkes outreach team which involves organising events and delivering research-led workshops in local schools, a role I enjoy very much.

Isabelle Seddon

My PhD dissertation explores the role played by Jewish actors and dramatists in the left wing Workers Theatre and Unity Theatre that set the scene for the Angry Young Men and kitchen sink drama that revolutionised British theatre in the 1950s. Unity theatre provided many working class Jewish actors their first entrance into the entertainment industry and these included Lionel Bart (the creator of the musical Oliver!), Warren Mitchell ('Till Death Us Do Part), Alfie Bass and David Kossoff. Their emergence as Jewish Cockneys in popular culture and their Jewish and non-Jewish identity will be explored.

Jeremy Smilg

I am working on the topic of ‘What were the implications for Anglo-Jewry of the French Revolution?’ The French Revolution brought political emancipation for Jews in France, a move towards equal rights before the law, Napoleon's destruction of the ghettos and the calling of the Sanhedrin. My dissertation aims to consider the extent of antisemitism in Britain at the time and how Jews in Britain reacted to these events. My supervisors are Professor Tony Kushner and Professor David Brown.

Hilda Worth

My PhD research is on ‘Attitudes of British Political Leadership to Israel’, with a case study of Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher. These two leaders came from different sides of the political arena and were both considered to be solid friends of Israel and supportive of the state. However, their policy decisions towards Israel were driven by differing factors, and I intend to assess what these influences were and evaluate how they impacted on Wilson and Thatcher’s strategy and relationship with Israel. I will compare their reactions and responses to contemporaneous event. I further intend to discuss their relationship with the Jewish community in Britain. My supervisors are Joachim Schloer and Shirli Gilbert.

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