Benito and Juliet: fascism and Shakespeare in Verona

Last month I did a talk about Romeo and Juliet, Verona, tourism and fascism at History Showoff, a fun night where a bunch of historians get up in a pub basement and have exactly nine minutes to share something interesting with the audience. Although I am not a proper historian, the organiser let me have a go anyway (thank you Steve!), and I think it went well. There’s a video on YouTube (and below), although I could only watch 30 seconds of it before turning it off, because I hate hearing my own voice!

Here’s the gist of it, adapted from my notes, though I realised while putting this together that I didn’t really keep track of citations, since I wasn’t thinking past the presentation (see again: not proper historian). So there are some parts in the talk that aren’t here (mostly jokes about TripAdvisor) and some parts here that aren’t in the talk (mostly because I was nervous and forgot). Read more...

Hampstead: Shylock, Nazis and a quiet cup of tea

Ivy House (London Jewish Cultural Centre). Photo from the London Ballet School.
Ivy House (London Jewish Cultural Centre). Photo from the London Ballet School.


I’ve been to Ivy House in Hampstead before, for three weeks of Hebrew classes. (I was not very good and dropped out.) The ballerina Anna Pavlova lived here in the 1910s-20s, and since then it’s been remodelled like a university building, with white walls and fluorescent lights, to become the London Jewish Cultural Centre. Every stall in the ladies’ loos has something wrong with it and there are flyers up for Holocaust film screenings and talks from historians.

Today the ‘weekly film club’ is showing clips of several Shylocks. The woman at the front desk takes my £5, carefully writes down my name as Kerry Lambell and points me down the hall towards a closed door. Read more...

“Judaism: All That Matters” by Keith Kahn-Harris

Judaism: All That Matters by Keith Kahn-Harris

Title: Judaism: All That Matters
Author: Keith Kahn-Harris
Published: Hodder Education, 2012. 126pp. [buy ethically: UK, US]

I’ve read quite a few books about Judaism by Jews for Jews (or potential Jews), but “Judaism: All That Matters”, by Keith Kahn-Harris, is the first book I’ve read about Judaism, by a Jewish person, aimed at non-Jews – intended as a primer for people who might not know very much about us. Read more...