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The University of Southampton
The Parkes Institute

Student Testimonials

Below are some testimonials from our previous students.

Undergraduates studying

Alex Jones, History

"I came to university a resoundingly modern historian. After all, I had studied the Cold War at A-level. There was no way I had the necessary skills or the inclination to gaze any further back in time. Nevertheless, fate had other ideas. Due to Early Modern Childhood being oversubscribed, I found myself in the first year assigned to Dr Dan Levene's Early Jewish Magic course wondering what on earth I was going to be studying. Thrown headfirst into a world of demons and angels, magic bowls and spells, I was entranced. Here I was, half a semester into my university career and considering the weighty question of how magic and religion were intertwined.

I enjoyed this course and went on to take units on the Old Testament: Origins, Transmission and Translation, Aramaic Texts, Landscape and Memory: Perspectives on Jerusalem, and then completed a dissertation that attempts to contextualize the role of Ancient Israelite women and their manipulation in contemporary culture.

These units have allowed me to discover cultures previously completely unknown to me through the lens of Jewish history. From studying Jewish Aramaic texts I learned about the Persian Empire. In researching for my dissertation I wrestled with feminist scholarship, postmodernism and biblical hermeneutics. Early Jewish Magic included elements of archaeology, anthropology and sociology. I also had the chance to learn Biblical Hebrew and Aramaic. I can think of no other pathway open to a History student that would allow such breadth of study, and I have enjoyed it immensely."

Tom Bracey, History

"During my first year of University I didn't imagine that I would spend three years studying Jewish History. However, the passionate teaching, diverse range of interesting subjects (both ancient and modern) and substantial library made the decision to study Jewish History in every year of my undergraduate program easy.

I graduated from Southampton University with a greater understanding of Jewish history and religion as well as an in-depth knowledge of many other topics that come from taking the courses, including migration, film, music, art, religion, language, culture and feminism. Studying Jewish history and culture helped me broaden my horizons and challenged my perceptions of History beyond the standard History taught at Colleges and Universities."

Sunniva Phillips, English and History

"I first chose to take a Jewish history module due to a passing interest in the experience of Jews that began whilst I was at school. However, when I arrived at Southampton I began to realise the magnitude of the topic and the many different avenues that one can take with the subject area. The analytical and interpretative skills that I acquired throughout my time were extended by undertaking Jewish history modules throughout my three years at Southampton. The seminars were always stimulating and informal with a focus on key issues which helped in understanding the topic as a whole.

I would recommend taking Jewish history courses to anyone doing a history degree as it really helps students to comprehend the treatment of minorities throughout history and the importance of not allowing a group to be reduced to a stereotype. It added a whole new focus to my studies and especially during my dissertation as it motivated me to strive for an original idea. Due to the numerous different media that we used in our seminars there were a wide range of options that were available to me."

Lucy Gaughan, English

"After enjoying the modules I studied in Jewish Fictions and Holocaust Literature as an English undergraduate, I decided to study the Jewish History and Culture: Dialectics of Time and Space module at Southampton as part of an MA in Literature Culture and Modernity.

The breadth of subjects covered on this course together with having the extensive collection of the Parkes Library right on my doorstep, has given me a solid grounding in the core issues relating to Jewish identity and culture, whilst allowing me to focus my interests in the specific areas of my choice without being restricted through any limitation of resources. The course has also been surprisingly cross-disciplinary, conveniently interconnecting with my English units in Feminism and Postmodernism and Text Culture and Theory.

Taking a Jewish studies module as part of my MA at Southampton has proven a excellent choice in adding more value and diversity to my postgraduate education and giving me the opportunity to take part and hopefully contribute to this expert and innovative research community."

Bradley Barnes, History

"I have loved absolutely every minute of my degree programme. Not only has the programme allowed me to pursue a passion, it has also nurtured my own personal development, both as a ‘historian' and as an individual."

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