UCL Institute of Jewish Studies


Public Lectures Autumn 2012


  • Dwelling in the Text: The Concept of Bayit in Contemporary Hebrew Literature - Vered Shemtom, Stanford University
  • Exploring, Training, Conserving: The Role of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem in Mandate Palestine (with the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society) - Amara Thornton, UCL
  • Mental Health Specialists and Inter-Faith Relationships: the Unholy Union between Religion and Therapy in Contemporary Israel - Yohai Hakak, University of Portsmouth
  • Jewish Theatre during the Holocaust: Recently Rediscovered Scripts from the Theresienstadt Ghetto - Lisa Peschel, University of York
  • The Second Fall of Adam and Eve: Biblical Aspects of an Islamic Narrative - Zohar Hadromi-Allouche, University of Aberdeen
  • King Saul as Mythic Hero (Abrahams-Curiel Memorial Lecture) - Robert Segal, University of Aberdeen


(Note: Speaker profiles were accurate at time of lecture series and are not kept up to date)

Derek J. Penslar is the Stanley Lewis Professor of Israel Studies at Oxford and the Samuel Zacks Professor of Jewish History at the University of Toronto. He is author or editor of ten books, including Shylock's Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe (2001), Israel in History: The Jewish State in Comparative Perspective (2006),  and The Origins of Israel: A Documentary History (2011). His most recent book, which will be published next year by Princeton University Press, is entitled Uniform Identities: Jews and the Military in Modern History. He is co-editor of two scholarly journals, The Journal of Israeli History and Jewish Social Studies. He is an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the American Academy for Jewish Research.

Kenneth Marks has an MPhil, MA and BA in Archaeology which he studied at UCL's Institute of Archaeology. He was a former Director of Debenhams, Chairman of the British-Israel Chamber of Commerce and a non-executive director of The Bank Leumi UK. His presentation is based on his MPhil thesis, which examines the physical, documented and topographical evidence of Jewish communities in England and Wales in the 17th-19th centuries. The presentation will show that the density and the location of the early synagogues changed over time and thus Jewish population distribution and change had a clear physical impact on urban topography.

Rachel Feldhay Brenner is Max and Frieda Weinstein-Bascom Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor of Modern Hebrew Literature at the Department of Hebrew Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is Senior Fellow in the Institute of Research for the Humanities. She has published widely on responses to the Holocaust in Jewish Diaspora literature, Israeli literature, and Polish literature. Amongst her publications are Assimilation and Assertion: The Response to the Holocaust in Mordecai Richler's WritingsA.M. Klein, The Father of Canadian Jewish Literature: Essays in the Poetics of Humanistic PassionWriting as Resistance: Four Women Confronting the Holocaust: Edith Stein, Simone Weil, Anne Frank, and Etty HillesumInextricably Bonded - Israeli Jewish and Arab Writers Re-Visioning Culture and The Freedom to Write: The Woman-Artist and the World in Ruth Almog's Fiction [Hebrew]. Her current project, "The Ethics of Witnessing," focuses on Warsaw Polish Writers' diaristic responses to the Holocaust.

Jack Jacobs is Professor of Political Science at John Jay College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the author of On Socialists and 'the Jewish Question' after Marx and of Bundist Counterculture in Interwar Poland and is the editor of Jewish Politics in Eastern Europe: The Bund at 100. He has served as a Fulbright Scholar at the Institute for German History at Tel Aviv University and at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, and has also been a Visiting Scholar at the Simon-Dubnow-Institut für Jüdische Geschichte und Kultur (University of Leipzig). He is currently writing a book on Jewish identity, antisemitism and the development of the Frankfurt School.

Vered Shemtov has a BA in Comparative Literature from Tel Aviv University and a PhD  in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. She is the Eva Chernov Lokey Senior Lecturer in Hebrew Language and Literature at Stanford University.  She teaches in Stanford's Middle Eastern programme and in the department of Comparative Literature. Until 2011 she served as Co-director of the Stanford Center for Jewish Studies.  She is author of Changing Rhythms: Towards a Prosodic Theory in Cultural Context (2012) as well as several articles, and has co-edited volumes on Jewish Perspectives and Practices of Space (2005) and 1948: History and Responsibility in Hebrew Literature (forthcoming).  

Amara Thornton is currently an Honorary Research Associate at the UCL Institute of Archaeology.  Her doctoral thesis, completed in July 2011, explored the lives and social networks of five British archaeologists: George and Agnes Horsfield, John and Molly Crowfoot, and John Garstang, to illustrate key themes in the history of archaeology.  She has published short articles on the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem and has recently published a database of students at the BSAJ between 1920 and 1936. She is currently researching the role of heritage tourism in Mandate Palestine and Transjordan.  

Yohai Hakak is a senior lecturer at the School of Health Sciences and Social Work, University of Portsmouth. He is interested in religion, gender and youth, amongst other topics. In recent years he has been studying the ways in which religious communities use psychological discourses. Two of his recent related publications are Egalitarian Fundamentalism (2011) and Psychology and Democracy in the Name of the God?  The Invocation of Modern and Secular Discourses on Parenting in the Service of Conservative Religious Aims, Mental Health, Culture and Religion (2011).

Lisa Peschel has been researching theatrical performance in the Terezín/Theresienstadt ghetto since 1998.  She is currently a lecturer in the Department of Theatre, Film and Television at the University of York.  She has lectured, published and led student performance workshops about theatre in the ghetto in the US and in Europe.  Her anthology, Performing Captivity, Performing Escape:  Cabarets and Plays from the Terezin/Theresienstadt Ghetto, is forthcoming in 2012 and she is currently preparing a study of Czech, German and Zionist cabarets in the ghetto.  She completed a Ph.D. in theatre history at the University of Minnesota in 2009 and studied playwriting at the University of Texas in 2001.

Zohar Hadromi-Allouche has been a lecturer in Islam at Aberdeen University's department of Divinity and Religious Studies since 2011.  Prior to that she was a teaching fellow at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, a post-doctoral fellow at Haifa University, visiting lecturer at Beit-Berl Academic College and course instructor at The Open University's Department of the History of the Middle East. Her research interests include early Qur'an, Sira and Hadith literature, the relationship between these and other religious and literary traditions and religious and folk literature.

Robert A. Segal is Sixth Century Chair in Religious Studies, University of Aberdeen.   A native of Philadelphia, he received his PhD in religion from Princeton University. He taught at Reed College, Stanford University, the University of Pittsburgh and Tulane University before coming to the UK in 1994 to teach at Lancaster University.  In 2006 he left Lancaster for Aberdeen.  His training is in religions of the Greco-Roman world and his first book, a revision of his PhD thesis, was The Poimandres as Myth (1986). His specialty is theories, both of myth and of religion. Among the books he has written or edited are Joseph Campbell: an introduction(1990), Explaining and Interpreting Religion (1992), The Gnostic Jung (1992), The Myth and Ritual Theory (1998), Jung on Mythology (1998), Theorizing about Myth (1999), Myth: a very short Introduction (2004), and the Blackwell Companion to the Study of Religion (2006).