Anglo-Jewish Literature and Culture

Module code: EN7129

Module co-ordinator: Dr Richa Dwor

For many, the figure of the Jew in Victorian novels was a cipher for anxieties about the limits of English national identity. This module offers a new context in which to read familiar authors, including Dickens and Eliot, alongside instances of Jewish self-representation in order to consider how minority groups appropriate and modify popular forms whilst negotiating participation in hegemonic structures of power.

Against a backdrop of Evangelical programmes for Jewish conversion and the spread of new discourses of race science, Jewish self-representation in literature marks an important encounter between forms of civic accommodation and the protection of religious difference. We will examine the uses of literature, especially the novel, in negotiating religious, gendered, and national identities. We shall also develop critical methodology for detecting the interplay between religious structures of thought and literary form.

We will draw on Evangelical tracts, legal documents, scientific debates, and the Jewish periodical press alongside core novels. Students are also expected to read widely in the secondary literature on the authors studied. Key primary texts are:

  • Maria Edgeworth, Harrington (1817) and Grace Aguilar, The Vale of Cedars (1850)
  • Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist (1837-39) and Our Mutual Friend (1864-65) [extracts]
  • George Eliot, Daniel Deronda (1876) and 'The Modern Hep! Hep! Hep!' (1879)
  • Amy Levy, Reuben Sachs (1888) and Julia Frankau, Dr. Philips: A Maida Vale Idyll (1887)
  • Israel Zangwill, Children of the Ghetto (1892)


  • One 4,000 word essay