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Leo Baeck Institute London Lecture Series 2023

Leo Baeck Institute 2023 Lecture Series: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Myths, Images and Imaginings about JewsThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Myths, Images and Imaginings about Jews

A lecture series organised by the Leo Baeck Institute London in cooperation with the German Historical Institute London.

This season’s lecture series seeks to explore the connection of visual narratives in the context of beauty, ugliness and morality with representations of Jews and Jewishness in the Western world from the Middle Ages to the present day. We aim to examine the subject from different historical, social and artistic perspectives ranging from medieval mythology to Orientalism, Zionism, Feminism or modern aesthetics, and through the lens of a selection of diverse media including painting, photography and comics.

The remaining lectures this season will be held at Senate House, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU, and will also be available on Zoom. Places are strictly limited and must be reserved in advance by contacting the Leo Baeck Institute London on info@leobaeck.co.uk or by signing up on Eventbrite. Admission is free. Lectures will begin promptly at 6.30pm. Latecomers may not be admitted.

Zoom links will be advertised closer to the dates of individual events in our lecture announcements via email, social media and on our website.

For more information on this season’s lecture series please refer to the leaflet here.

Prof Cathy Gelbin

The monstrous Jew of popular imagination found perhaps his most salient expression in Weimar cinema’s love of the uncanny. These films derive their lasting fascination from the often-ironic interplay of their separate and yet related gendered, sexualised and racialised portrayals. The talk explores how spectatorial pleasure can arise from the emerging gaps where the incoherence of these categories, presumed to be absolute in the biologized discourses of modernity, is playfully made visible and ridiculed.

Cathy Gelbin is Professor of Film and German Studies at the…

Prof Nadia Valman

British culture has always been fascinated by the figure of the Jewess. This lecture will explore its roots in nineteenth-century theology, and its popularisation through literature. In contrast to the more well- known stereotypes of Fagin and Shylock, the virtuous Jewess was an emblem of the privileged status accorded to both women and Jews in Victorian Protestant culture and demonstrates that Jews could function not simply as an ‘other’ within modern cultures, but also, simultaneously, an ideal self.

Prof Sara Lipton

Art can be a powerful force in shaping the way we see and think about the world: pictures craft our ideas of beauty and ugliness, good and bad, power and weakness. This lecture traces how medieval Christian images of Jews, originally designed to aid religious devotions, made Christians look at Jews with new curiosity and interest, and drew their attention to previously unnoticed aspects of Jewish life and looks. As images of Jews evolved from benign but outdated Hebrews to caricatured usurers and demonic sorcerers, Christian society developed new – and increasingly hostile – ideas about…

Prof Daniel Magilow

Jüdische Kinder in Erez Israel, a collection of twenty-one photographs of adorable Jewish children in Mandatory Palestine, was the last overtly Jewish-themed photobook published in Germany before the Holocaust. Yet its propaganda mission transcended its diminutive size and surface superficiality. This talk examines how this photobook creates an allegory of Jewish vulnerability by eliciting responses associated with the minor aesthetic category of ‘cuteness.’ In so doing, it broadens our understanding of how photobooks helped expand the visual lexicon and aesthetic strategies…

Dr Sarah Lightman

Jewish women have been at the forefront of feminist autobiographical comics since the 1970’s as they challenged sexism in popular culture. But how have they revised misogynistic images and stories closer to home? Sarah Lightman will illustrate how Sharon Rudahl in her bildungsroman ‘The Star Sapphire’, Miriam Katin in her Holocaust memoir, We Are on Our Own, and her own graphic novel, The Book of Sarah, transform biblical narratives and images to reflect their own, lived, experiences.