Karten Studentships in Jewish History and Culture

The Parkes Institute is pleased to offer at least four studentships for students from any country to study for an MA in Jewish History and Culture at the University of Southampton, UK. The studentships will assist towards the cost of tuition fees (min. £1000 – max. £2500).

The University of Southampton is home to the Parkes Institute, one of the foremost centres for the study of Jewish history and culture in the UK, with specialists in ancient and modern Jewish history, literature, and culture, and the histories of British, German, South African, and East European Jewries. The Parkes Library and Archive is an outstanding resource for the study of Jewish history and culture.

First launched in 1997, the MA programme offers a rich encounter with the main currents in Jewish history and culture through the ages, drawing on and fostering the use of different scholarly disciplines. Reflecting the heritage of James Parkes’ scholarship, on which the Parkes Institute is founded, the programme places a distinct and unique emphasis on studying Jewish History and Culture within the broad framework of the study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations.

Foundation-level training is provided in research skills, and opportunities for specialisation are offered through a choice of optional modules. Students are also encouraged to develop or employ language skills for research purposes.

The programme attracts students from a very varied range of backgrounds and academic interests. For some of these students, the MA provides the foundation for doctoral studies, but for others the course offers opportunities for professional and personal development in fields such as teaching, community relations, museum and archive work.

Deadline: 31 May 2015

How to apply:
See our website http://www.soton.ac.uk/parkes/postgrad/ma1.html for information about the programme and details on how to apply. Please apply online for the MA programme at http://www.soton.ac.uk/postgraduate/pgstudy/howdoiapplypg.html and send a personal statement regarding this studentship to Dr Shirli Gilbert, convenor of the MA programme, at s.gilbert@soton.ac.uk.

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PhD Studentship in Holocaust Studies at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Southampton

Applications are invited for a fully-funded PhD studentship as part of the Music and the Holocaust website project (http://holocaustmusic.ort.org).

The Music and the Holocaust website is a widely-used educational resource created under the auspices of the international organisation World ORT, and was featured at a United Nations presentation in 2014. The website includes hundreds of articles describing the wide range of musical activities that took place in camps and ghettos across Nazi-occupied Europe, focusing on the work of professional musicians and composers as well as music created and performed by millions of ‘ordinary’ people in response to their experiences of internment. It also contains dozens of recordings as well as resources for teachers, students, commemoration organisers, and members of the general public interested in the subject. One of the key goals of the project is to bring the material to a wide audience and encourage its use in teaching and commemorative activity.

The PhD student’s research will focus on any aspect of musical life in Germany or its occupied territories during the period of Nazi rule between 1933 and 1945.

The student will also spend three hours per week overseeing the website, including soliciting new articles and music recordings, writing short articles for the site based on their own research, and working with the Parkes Institute’s Outreach Programme to integrate use of the website in secondary teaching.

The student’s principal supervisor will be Dr Shirli Gilbert, with a co-supervisor selected to suit the candidate’s particular research interests. Students will be registered at the University of Southampton.

You are strongly recommended to contact Dr Shirli Gilbert (s.gilbert@soton.ac.uk) to discuss your proposal in advance of submission.

The PhD studentship requires at least a good 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent) and a Masters in either History, Music, or a related discipline.

The PhD scholarship is tenable for a maximum of three years, commencing September 2015, at an annual stipend of around £15,000. Tuition fees will also be paid directly to the University at the appropriate UKEU fee rate.

Application for this studentship is by CV; a sample of written work (4,000 words, max); an 800 word personal statement; and a 1500 word research proposal. The research proposal should be in line with the topic outlined above. Please also arrange for two academic references to be sent independently by the deadline. All material should be sent to pgafh@soton.ac.uk.

Deadline for applications: Friday 24 April 2015

 We may invite you for interview over telephone or Skype (date tbc).

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The Ian and Mildred Karten Memorial Lecture 2015: ‘Hocus Pocus? – Ethnology of the magical text, Babylonia to Ethiopia’

Whatever you think of magic one thing is clear, it is a very long lived tradition that has left in its wake a huge wealth of written evidence. What can this evidence tell us about those who made use of magical knowledge and managed its transmission over time? We will examine two case studies, the Jewish and other magical text of late antique Mesopotamia, and the Christian and Jewish equivalents of medieval to current day Ethiopia.

The Ian and Mildred Karten Memorial Lecture is part of the Parkes Institute annual lecture series and has been renamed to honour the generosity and interest shown by Ian and Mildred in the Parkes Institute.

If you wish to attend what promises to be a very popular lecture please email parkes@southampton.ac.uk asap to reserve a place and avoid disappointment.

Speaker information

Dr Dan Levene


Lecture Theatre A
Avenue Campus
University of Southampton
SO17 1BF

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Parkes Public Statement regarding the Conference ‘International Law and the State of Israel’

The conference ‘International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism’, organised by a member of the Southampton Law School, will take place from 17-19 April 2015. Members of the public, including friends and supporters of the Parkes Institute, have voiced their concern about the fact that a conference that invites the questioning of the legitimacy of the State of Israel should be hosted by one of the UK’s leading universities.

The University of Southampton is legally obliged under Section 43 of the Education (No 2) Act 1986, to take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the University as well as for visiting speakers. We fully support freedom of speech within the law, but we want to make very clear that the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations has no involvement with the conference.

As the Parkes Institute which honours and treasures its academic contacts with Israeli as well as Palestinian scholars, universities, archives, and other institutions, we are deeply concerned by the conference plan as it has been presented. This event could potentially damage the spirit of dialogue and cooperation that James Parkes brought to Southampton and to which we are all committed. A conference that singles out Israel and invites the questioning of its very existence cannot be supported by a group of academics dedicated to the study of Jewish history and culture.

Joachim Schlör, Director of the Parkes Institute

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‘Music in the Holocaust’ at the United Nations

The Parkes Institute was recently represented at a United Nations programme on the Holocaust, organised for Yom Hashoah.

Shirli GilbertDr Shirli Gilbert, author of Music in the Holocaust, spoke at a United Nations forum on ‘Learning about the Holocaust through the Arts’ at the UN headquarters in New York last month.

Shirli’s work focuses on the way in which music enabled the formation and maintenance of communities in the ghettos and camps, and explores Jews’ use of music as a form of resistance against Nazi persecution. She also explores the ways in which music – particularly the many songs that were preserved – contribute to our broader understanding of the Holocaust and the experiences of its victims.

“The music that survived the Holocaust helps us to deepen the way in which we remember its victims and the ways in which we convey their memory,” Shirli told the forum. “The songs help us to think about the victims as human beings unsure about what was happening to them and full of conflicting wishes, hopes, fears and predictions.”

Learning about the Holocaust through the Arts

Shirli is also the content leader for the music in the holocaust website, which preserves the music of the Holocaust and provides educational resources for those teaching on the destruction of European Jewry.

The webcast of the forum can be found here; Shirli’s discussion of music in the Holcoaust begins at 1:29:45.

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Meet our PhD Students: Jen Arnold

In the latest in our series exploring the work of the Parkes Institute’s thriving postgraduate research community, we meet Jen Arnold. Jen began her PhD this academic year, and is working under Professor Tony Kushner, head of the Parkes Institute and an internationally recognised historian of British Jewry.

What’s your project title?

From Travelling Boxing booths to British Fascism the life of Southampton’s Heavyweight Champion Joe Beckett

What are some of your research interests?

Anti-Semitism, Gypsy and Travellers, non-Jewish and Jewish relations, boxing, life writing, local history, masculinity and identity.

Tell us a bit more about your PhD project

The project proposes to evaluate the life and career of professional heavyweight champion Joe Beckett. Beckett’s boxing career spanned most of his adult life; firstly in the fairground boxing booths organised within his Traveller family, and later as a professional British Heavyweight Champion boxer, which brought him several Commonwealth and national titles. Nevertheless, Beckett’s boxing career is not the only attribute in his life that is worth evaluating. Therefore, I believe Beckett will provide a wide and varied insight into not only British social history, but furthermore, towards the history of the south coast and in particular to the history of Southampton. By analysing his membership in the BUF, the project will offer a local perspective on the dynamics of non-Jewish and Jewish relations. Beckett lived in various south-coast towns in the course of his life; an analysis of his activities will offer insight into various local histories. This will also allow a comparison of the different local fascist and racist dynamics in these towns. Therefore, local archives will be examined. This thesis will adopt a chronological approach; the thesis will employ the work on auto/biographical theory and life history, paying particular attention to the four attributes of Beckett’s life.

The study will firstly biographically unpack Beckett’s life as a Traveller as little is known of the Beckett family’s origins and whether their occupations of fairground booth-boxers, showmen and market-stall holders reflected their status within British society. Some direct comparisons can be made between the Jewish and Travelling communities. Indeed, the migrant environment flows through both groups. This project will research the background into the immigrant and minority culture of the Traveller groups and explore their status in British and local society. The discussion will unpack the social structure of the Travellers’ community itself and analyse the variations of identity within the community.

The project will secondly focus on Beckett’s prosperous fighting career with an additional focus given to the identity and identities that are associated with Boxing and the representation of masculinity within the sport itself. This will involve researching national and European sources that reflect the image of boxing. Indeed, this part of the discussion will be assessed by analysing not only the physical representation of boxing, but furthermore, the psychological presentation of the sport, which reflected the cultural values of Britain. The discussion will evaluate photographic and pictorial sources. Indeed, sources including the presentation of boxers within staged photographs and the representation of boxers in popular Victorian and Edwardian periodicals, including Punch and others. This will highlight the hybridity and fluidity of identity within boxing and how it was used as a medium to move within the social stratifications of British culture. A discussion on contemporary boxing champions will be analysed to interpret boxing in British society today. For example, Tyson Fury, himself of Traveller descent, will be researched as a direct comparison to Joe Beckett.

Finally, the discussion will analyse Beckett’s anti-Semitic attitudes that stemmed from his time fighting in London’s East End and were furthered by BUF papers such as Action that encouraged the propagandised notion of the ‘Hidden Hand’. With the wealth of social history that Beckett’s life overlapped with, I hope to gain insight into broader social and cultural attitudes towards anti-Semitism, with a constant focus on the migrant mind-set that was common to both groups, alongside their social ideals of the family. The Jewish populations of the south-coast port towns, not only Southampton, but also Portsmouth will allow a particular insight into the transmigrant and immigrant Eastern European Jewish communities.

 What got you interested in this particular topic?

 From a very young age, I have always had an interest in British ethnic minorities, specifically the Anglo-Jewish culture and Eastern European immigration, but since studying at Southampton University I have discovered a passion for the diversity of different ethnic cultures in Britain. This particular topic interests me on several levels; firstly, Beckett offers a unique opportunity to see British cultural identities, both in terms of ethnic minorities in society, but also the different identities of individuals throughout a period of British history that was continually evolving through war and industrial revolution   Secondly, the project entails a personal journey as I am the great-granddaughter of Beckett and I was raised on stories of his life, so inevitably see it part of my own heritage.

 What made you want to study at the Parkes Institute?

I completed my BA History at Southampton University and most of the modules I took involved the Parkes Institute. In fact, there was not one of my semesters that I didn’t at least have two modules which were based in Jewish and non-Jewish relations. I quickly discovered that I had a passion for Anglo-Jewish history and culture. This then led me to take the MA in Jewish History and Culture that was led by Parkes Institute. It was Professor Tony Kushner specifically, who positively challenged my enthusiasm and encouraged me to do my Ph.D. This is a decision I have never regretted and I love (mostly) every challenge that undertaking a Ph.D. involves.

What do you like about studying here?

The Parkes Institute is a friendly, intimate yet extremely well resourced academic facility, whose various scholars offer expertise on a variety of subjects directly related to the materials preserved in one of Europe’s largest collections of Jewish and Jewish related sources. In accordance with the will of James Parkes, whose collection of resources were donated to promote Jewish-Christian relations, the institute offers perhaps one of the richest environments for understanding these two communities, and the events which have shaped their interaction.

What sort of activities have you been involved in since you started here? 

I am privileged enough to be in my fifth year of studying at Southampton University and they have been filled with many highs and some lows that only academic studying can bring. Since starting my Ph.D. I have been mostly involved in researching, writing and deciding the direction of my thesis.

I have recently accepted an outreach doctoral fellowship for the Parkes Institute and I enjoy everything that this role involves. One of the responsibilities is to lead research-based workshops with schools around the Southampton area. I have taught sessions on and off campus and it has be a fantastic opportunity to represent the Parkes Institute and show teenagers the diversity of Jewish history and culture, but also the workshops give me a unique way of researching my thesis and allow me to demonstrate my research material.


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Call for papers – Refugees and Migrants: Unaccompanied Children in Britain 1914-2014

Against the backdrop of intense contemporary debate on immigration, the University of Southampton’s Parkes Institute and the Centre for German-Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex are pleased to announce an interdisciplinary and international conference on unaccompanied child migration both in and out of the UK over the past century. The conference, to be held 17-18 July 2014 at the University of Southampton, seeks to explore all aspects of child migration and its impact on children, society, politics, education and history.

We invite abstracts for papers covering any topic related to Great Britain and unaccompanied child migration over the past one hundred years, including, but not limited to the following:

Organisations and individuals working with child migrants

  • Belgian children in the First World War
  • Basque refugee children 1937-9
  • The Kindertransport
  • Post-war Holocaust orphans
  • Out-migration to the Dominions in the 20th century
  • Child migrants in the 1960s and 70s
  • Contemporary unaccompanied child migration

This conference is open to postgraduates, early career and established academics in any relevant discipline.

Abstracts of 300 words, for papers of 20 minutes and a short CV should be sent to either:

Jennifer Craig-Norton at J.Craig-Norton@soton.ac.uk or Rose Holmes at R.Holmes@sussex.ac.uk

Please submit abstract by 15 April 2014. Panel discussion proposals of three applicants are also welcome. Applicants will be notified by 15 May 2014.

A limited number of bursaries will be awarded to successful applicants.


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The Ian and Mildred Karten Memorial Lecture 2014

You are cordially invited to the 2014 Ian and Mildred Karten Memorial Lecture which will be given by Dr James Jordan.

‘Reviewing the Extermination: Dr Who, Daleks and the Changing Face of Jewish Identity’

The lecture will be chaired by Malcolm Ace, Chief Operating Officer at the University of Southampton.

Tuesday 20 May 2014 – 6pm
It has recently been suggested that the Doctor, the central character of the BBC’s Doctor Who, is in fact the most compelling Jewish character ever seen on British television. This lecture, part of a series of events organised to mark the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Parkes library at the University of Southampton, will explore this statement through a consideration of the show’s history both off-screen and on. It will explore the (real and imagined) displays of Jewish identity seen across 50 years through a discussion of the Doctor’s changing appearance, his rivalry with the Master, and enmity towards the Daleks, the despotic pepperpots with a love of extermination who were modelled on the Nazis. As we will see, the Doctor is not averse to antisemitism and the Daleks own past is more complicated and perhaps more controversial than the simplistic parallel provided by the Nazis.

Dr Jordan is the Karten Lecturer for the Parkes Institute and is also an alumnus of the University of Southampton. The Ian and Mildred Karten Memorial Lecture is part of the Parkes Institute annual lecture series and has this year been renamed to honour the generosity and interest shown by Ian and Mildred in the Parkes Institute.

If you wish to attend what promises to be a very popular lecture please email parkes@southampton.ac.uk asap to reserve a place and avoid disappointment.

Avenue Campus
Building 65
Lecture Theatre A

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MA Jewish History and Culture now recruiting

The Parkes Institute is now recruiting for its MA in Jewish History and Culture.

MA advert

The Programme

The Parkes MA programme offers a rich encounter with the main currents in Jewish history and culture from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Reflecting the heritage of James Parkes’ scholarship, the programme places an emphasis on the study of Jewish/non-Jewish relations. The course of studies builds on the world-class resources of the University’s Parkes Library and Jewish archives, and is taught by a well established team of international scholars, drawn from disciplines including History, English and Modern Languages. The expertise of the Parkes Institute provides opportunity for study from the ancient to the modern world and with wide geographical scope.

Modules include:

  • Jews and Non-Jews: Relations from Antiquity to Modernity (core)
  • Approaches to Jewish History and Culture (core)
  • Jewish Society and Culture in Eastern Europe
  • The Holocaust, Englishness and Americanness
  • The Jews of Egypt: from Alexander to Trajan
  • Jerusalem: City and Symbol
  • It is also possible to negotiate working on a subject of your choice

The programme attracts students from a very varied range of backgrounds and academic interest. For many the MA provides the foundation for doctoral studies but for many others the course offers other opportunities for professional and personal development.

Funding: Ian Karten Scholarship

Patron and supporter of the Parkes Institute, Ian Karten MBE, set up a charitable trust to assist students studying Jewish History and Culture. Scholarships from the Ian Karten Charitable Trust are offered to students on the MA programme. The award covers a contribution towards fees for students enrolling for the MA in Jewish History and Culture.

“The funding I received was vital in allowing me to embark on the course and I am already benefitting extensively from the options offered to me. I am very excited at this opportunity and I feel privileged to be at a university which is offering me this chance” (Katie Power).

For further information and applications

Please see our website: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/parkes/postgraduate/index.page?

The deadline for applications is 1st September 2014

Please contact Dr Claire Le Foll for informal discussion (c.le-foll@southampton.ac.uk)

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The 2014 Montefiore Lecture

The Parkes Institute cordially invites you to attend this year’s Montefiore Lecture:

Between Two Worlds: A Reflection on Assimilation

This year’s lecture will be delivered by Reverend Dr Giles Fraser who is a priest of the Church of England and a journalist for The Guardian newspaper.  He is currently a parish priest at St Marys in London and writes a weekly Saturday column as well as frequently appears on BBC Radio 4.  He is also a visiting professor in the anthropology department at the London School of Economics.

The Montefiore Lecture is part of the Parkes Institute’s annual lecture series and is the oldest lecture in the University of Southampton’s calendar.

All welcome. If you would like to attend the lecture place contact Tracy Storey (parkes@southampton.ac.uk) to register.

Venue and details

6pm, 4 March 2014
Lecture Theatre A
Avenue Campus
University of Southampton
SO17 1BF
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