The Promised Land: Utopia and Dystopia in Contemporary British-Jewish Culture

BJCC 2015 One-Day Conference, Thursday 23 July

 Open University Regional Centre, Camden, London

The conference is hosted and funded by the  Postcolonial Literatures Research  Group of the Open University, with  additional support from the British Jewish  Contemporary Culture research  network, Bangor University and the  University of Winchester.

Speakers         Venue              Map
Judaism can be seen as a utopian religion: the Promised Land will be an ideal place and the messiah will bring about an ideal world. Read as literature, the Bible offers one of the principal sources of utopian thought in Britain and the Western World. Judaic utopianism has become British through the cultural practice of imagining Jerusalem in these isles. It is such a conjunction of Jewish and British cultural utopias, in contemporary British-Jewish culture, which this conference proposes to explore. Challenging utopia, there is also a British-Jewish imaginative paradigm of dystopia. This has existed, in particular, since the advent of modern European antisemitism with the Dreyfus Affair and continued in the wake of the Holocaust.

Topics addressed: utopias of assimilation, Zionism, modernism, liberalism, communism, aesthetics, domesticity and romance; dystopias of antisemitism, communism, Nazism, the Holocaust and contemporary Britain, and the overlap of these utopias and dystopias.


Keynote:  Bryan Cheyette (University of Reading).

Confirmed speakers: Nathan Abrams (Bangor University), Merle Bachman (Spalding University), Federico Dal Bo (ICI Berlin), Finn Fordham (Royal Holloway), Ruth Gilbert (University of Winchester), Peter Lawson (Open University), Eric Sandberg (University of Oulu, Finland), Gavin Schaffer (University of Birmingham), Jeremy Solomons (University of Reading) and Sue Vice (University of Sheffield).

Wine Reception: Jasmine Donahaye (Swansea University): Reading from her memoir Losing Israel

The conference will be held on Thursday 23 July 2015 at the Open University London Regional Centre, Camden, and lunch will be provided. In keeping with the Open University’s founding commitment to social equality and accessible education, there will be no registration charge. It is planned to publish the proceedings.

Venue: Open University, 1-11 Hawley Crescent, Camden Town, London NW1 8NP (9.30am start).
Oopen University

To book: one of the limited number of places, please register for the event as soon as possible (and no later than Tuesday 31 March 2015). Proposals (no more than 500 words) and a one-page CV should be sent in an email titled ‘The Promised Land Conference’ to: For further information, please contact the conference organiser: