My research: : 'Enduring Identities: Jewish Identity in
the Holocaust Literature of Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel'
Programme: PhD Holocaust
Literature and Jewish Identity
Study mode: full time
Study Centre: Faculty of
Arts, crossing into the Faculty of Education and Theology
My primary research interests, explored
through my PhD study, are the Holocaust testimonies and literature
of Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel, and issues of faith and
religious identity during the Holocaust. My PhD thesis considers
“Enduring Identities” represented through the Holocaust themed
texts of Levi and Wiesel.
More broadly, I am interested in literary and
cultural responses to the Holocaust, from direct testimony to
modern representations of the Holocaust. I have explored these
themes in conference papers discussing cross-disciplinary studies
on the Holocaust, museum-based learning and visiting sites of the
Holocaust as an educational experience, Levi’s use of Dante in the
Holocaust narrative, philosophical interpretations of the
Holocaust, representations of traumatic memory, and Holocaust
commemoration in art. I have had the opportunity to present my
research locally and internationally at several conferences and
Why did you choose this programme at this University?
With a background in English Literature and an
interest in exploring more Theological and Religious aspects
of Holocaust studies I wanted to study a programme which would
support my knowledge and interest in the subject and encourage my
learning and development across the Arts and Theology disciplines.
I chose York St John to study at due to the level of interest and
support in my research proposal from my very first enquiry.
To help me use my first degree and literature
background, and to support my research in the areas of theology and
religious studies, I was able to study across two faculties, with a
main supervisor in the Faculty of Arts, and a second supervisor in
the Faculty of Education and Theology. The expertise and the
encouragement of staff across the two disciplines throughout my
enquiries and the application process assured me I had made the
right choice in coming to York St John.
How long have you been studying at YSJ?
I studied for three years, full time. I began my research degree
in March 2008 and submitted my thesis in February 2011. My viva
took place in April 2011.
How did you find combining your ‘work & home’ life with
Studying mainly from home and balancing full-time studies with
work and home life necessarily comes with challenges, but I was
prepared for these and felt that the positives of being able
to complete a PhD study within three years outweighed the
challenges that came with the intense period of study.
Following a routine, making use of the support offered by the
university and being a part of the growing and supportive research
community at York St John all made the experience manageable and
What did you find most helpful about the programme, resources,
The encouragement and support from the
academic staff in both faculties, research office and the
supportive environment within the growing graduate research
community at York St John have all been so helpful throughout. When
it came to the time for my viva I was particularly well-supported
with an organised mock-viva, support from fellow research
students, extra meetings with my supervisors and research
officer, and when the day arrived I had everyone on-hand to keep me
company, reassure me, and to celebrate with me afterwards!
What is the best thing about being a student at YSJ?
The friendly atmosphere that comes with
studying at a small campus, the inter-disciplinary
post-graduate environment and the sense of community
amongst the research students, and of course the beautiful
area of York and the surrounding countryside.
If you have completed the programme has gaining a degree
affected your decision about your career?
I began my research degree with the intention of working in
Higher Education, and completed my study still keen to work
in academia. Since completing my PhD I have stayed on at
York St John and am now a full-time member of staff in the Faculty
of Education and Theology. I began working in the Faculty as a
Research Assistant while studying, then became a Visiting Lecturer
in the Theology and Religious Studies department, teaching
Philosophy in World Religions. In 2012 I moved to a new post as a
Research Associate with the Faculty's Centre for Religion in