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The University of Southampton
The Parkes Institute

Jews and the Arts

As a result of its multidisciplinarity, the Parkes Institute facilitates fruitful dialogue between Jewish history and other disciplines such as art history, film and television studies and music.

It welcomes the strong interest of some of its staff in the role of the arts in Jewish history and identity, and reciprocally, in the contribution of Jews to the creation of modern art in the twentieth century. The exploration of this field allows members of the Parkes Institute to compare the representation of Jews in a variety of arts and in different contexts, but it also shows how the arts mirrored and expressed the changing identity and various experiences of Jews throughout the twentieth century. This research area also investigates the contribution of the Jews to the creation of a popular culture in migration, as well as in Western and Eastern Europe.

Individual research projects have led to publications on Music and Holocaust (Shirli Gilbert), the Vitebsk Art School and the creation of a modern Jewish art in Eastern Europe (Claire Le Foll) and the representation of the Holocaust in American films (James Jordan).

Claire Le Foll

In my research I explore different facets of the cultural history of Jews in Eastern Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. My first publications focused on aspects of Belorussian-Jewish cultural history, from the Vitebsk Art School and the emergence of modern Jewish art around Marc Chagall, to the image of Jews in Belorussian Soviet cinema and the question of the emergence of a ‘Belorussian Jewry'. More generally, I have a special interest in the little-researched relations between Jews and the ‘small nations' (Belorussians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians) and the cultural transfers between them in literature, cinema, theatre, arts and scholarship.

Shirli Gilbert

My research centres broadly on the Holocaust. I have published widely on music in the Nazi ghettos and camps as well as on issues relating to Holocaust memory, and my current research explores the ways in which the Holocaust shaped understandings of and responses to apartheid in South Africa (1948-1994).

James Jordan

My work takes me across a number of different fields that intersect with an interest and research expertise in Holocaust studies and education, Post-war Britain, museums and public history, film and television studies, history, race and racism.

Jews and the Arts

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