PhD Roundtable Event | Jewish/non-Jewish Encounters in Literary Texts

PhD Roundtable Event | Jewish/non-Jewish Encounters in Literary Texts

Tue, 10 Jan 2023, 18:00 Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±0)

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Every year, the Parkes Institute is pleased to dedicate one of its research seminars to doctoral research.

Part of the 2022/23 Parkes Institute Research Seminar Series. Every year, the Parkes Institute is pleased to dedicate one of its research seminars to doctoral research. This year we will hear from two PhD students, Asher Chee and Anoushka Alexander-Rose, who study Jewish/non-Jewish relations in different periods but who both work on literary sources (the Bible and Vladimir Nabokov).

The Talks

Jews vs. Christians over Isaiah’s Given Child Prophecy [Isaiah 9:5–6] (Asher Chee)

Recent research has shown that much can be learnt about Jewish–Christian relations by studying exegetical encounters over the Jewish Scriptures. However, not much work has been done in this regard specifically over the biblical Book of Isaiah. This is needful, considering the significance of the Book of Isaiah to Jews and Christians, and how it has been used to address fundamental matters such as messianism, peoplehood, and religious law. This presentation provides an example of how a study of exegetical encounters is done on a biblical passage. It traces the reception history of Isaiah’s Given Child Prophecy (Isaiah 9:5-6) from before the rise of Christianity up to the 6th century CE, and demonstrates how interesting conclusions can be drawn regarding the nature of Jewish–Christian relations during late antiquity.

Vladimir Nabokov and his Wandering Jews (Anoushka Alexander-Rose)

An understudied element amongst the broad study of Russian-American author Vladimir Nabokov is the pervasive and mysterious Jewish theme. A necessary exploration of this not only helps to characterise the way in which Nabokov writes the Jewish ‘other’ but sheds new light on his modernist authorship and challenges his desire to be read outside of history. Alongside recognised references to Jewish characters and themes, my research posits that a foundational motif for Nabokov is the Wandering Jew. I offer the first translation and analysis of ‘Agasfer’, a dramatic prologue written and performed in 1923. It is from this early text that Nabokov builds his Jewish ‘type’, a stateless, nameless, lawless exile, and with a paranoid reading this character can be identified as it travels throughout his oeuvre, culminating in the figure of Lolita’s post-Holocaust Humbert Humbert.

About the Speakers

Asher Chee is a part-time PhD student in History at the University of Southampton. His research seeks to understand what can be learnt about Jewish–Christian relations during late antiquity (4th–6th centuries CE) from the way that Jews and Christians interpreted and used Scripture. He has a full-time job as a software engineer with the Singapore Government, and is also a lecturer with the Asia-Pacific Institute of International Studies (APIIS). Asher was awarded the 2021/22 James Parkes postgraduate scholarship

Anoushka Alexander-Rose is a postgraduate researcher in English with the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at the University of Southampton. As part of her PhD, titled ‘Vladimir Nabokov and his Wandering Jews’, she has delivered conference papers in the UK and US, completed extensive archival work at the New York Public Library and Library of Congress, and published an article in Jewish Culture and History on Vladimir Nabokov’s father, liberalism and the Jewish Question in revolutionary Russia. Anoushka received the Agron PhD scholarship.

The seminar will be chaired by Dr Anna Collar.

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