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Dr Nadia Valman, BA (Cambridge) MA (Leeds) PhD (London)

Reader in English Literature



Nadia Valman

I’m a scholar of nineteenth and twentieth century culture urban culture with special interests in religion, gender and migrancy. I studied English at the Universities of Cambridge and Leeds and  completed my doctorate at Queen Mary. My research focused on literature and the campaign for Jewish civil rights in Britain in the nineteenth century. This topic led me to discover a number of unknown Victorian Jewish and Christian women writers, and to my first monograph on the figure of the Jewess in nineteenth-century literature. I taught at the University of Southampton for 10 years before returning to Queen Mary in 2007. At QM, I’ve developed research on the literary history of London’s East End and spent a lot of time walking.


In a typical year, I teach fiction and prose of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I have recently convened Narrative, an introductory lecture course on how to read novels, and taught two modules on the literature of London: Representing Victorian London and Writing Modern London. If you are hooked, you can continue to study with me at MA level, in Writing the East End. These modules examine the ways that texts imagine, mediate or transform experiences of urban space; and they involve exploration of the physical and cultural fabric of London itself as well as its narratives.

In the 2015-16 academic year, I am teaching on:

Undergraduate teaching:

Postgraduate teaching:


Research interests:

  • Literature and religion in the nineteenth century
  • British-Jewish literature
  • The literature of London, especially east London

Recent and On-Going Research:

My first monograph, The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2007) examined the philosemitic novel in Britain. In this and subsequent work I seek to situate representations of Jews within wider debates about politics, culture and nation. I have also explored the representation of Jews in literature and popular culture in a number of edited books, including (with Bryan Cheyette) The Image of the Jew in European Liberal Culture, 1789-1914 (Vallentine Mitchell, 2004); (with Eitan Bar-Yosef) The ‘Jew’ in Edwardian Culture: Between the East End and East Africa (Palgrave, 2009) and (with Tony Kushner) Remembering Cable Street: Fascism and Anti-Fascism in British Society (Vallentine Mitchell, 1999). My research also concerns writing by Jews: I co-edited (with Naomi Hetherington) Amy Levy: Critical Essays (Ohio University Press, 2010), the first collection of essays on the remarkable Victorian Anglo-Jewish writer Amy Levy. Nineteenth-Century Jewish Literature: A Reader, my co-edited selection of short stories by Jewish writers in Britain, France and Germany, was published by Stanford University Press in 2013. My two most recent books are the Routledge Handbook to Contemporary Jewish Cultures (co-edited with Laurence Roth), a groundbreaking collection of essays that brings together theory and analysis of Jewish cultural practices across the globe (Routledge, 2014), and a new edited collection of essays, British Jewish Women Writers (Wayne State University Press, 2014).

In my most recent research, I have extended my interest in Jewish writers of London’s East End to look at the broader literary history of the area. I co-convened a seminar series on ‘Revisiting the Victorian East End' at the Institute of English Studies, University of London, and published a co-edited special issue of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century on this subject. In July 2011 I organised a conference on Willy Goldman’s celebrated memoir East End My Cradle and in November 2013 an international conference marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of another East End writer, Arthur Morrison.

For the academic year 2014-15 I was awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship to research the literature of the East End.



The Jewess in Nineteenth-Century British Literary Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Edited books and journal special issues:

Routledge Handbook to Contemporary Jewish Cultures, ed. Laurence Roth and Nadia Valman (Routledge, 2014)

British Jewish Women Writers (Wayne State University Press, 2014)

Nineteenth Century Jewish Literature: A Reader, ed. Jonathan Hess, Maurice Samuels and Nadia Valman (Stanford University Press, 2013)

Revisiting the Victorian East End', ed. Emma Francis and Nadia Valman, special issue of 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, no 13 (2011)

Amy Levy: Critical Essays, ed. Naomi Hetherington and Nadia Valman (Ohio University Press, 2010)

The 'Jew' in late-Victorian and Edwardian Culture: Between the East End and East Africa, ed. Eitan Bar-Yosef and Nadia Valman (Palgrave, 2009)

The Image of the Jew in European Liberal Culture, 1789-1914, ed. Bryan Cheyette and Nadia Valman (Vallentine Mitchell, 2004)

Philosemitism, Antisemitism and 'the Jews': Perspectives from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century, ed. Tony Kushner and Nadia Valman (Ashgate, 2004)

Remembering Cable Street: Fascism and Anti-Fascism in British Society, ed. Tony Kushner and Nadia Valman (Vallentine Mitchell, 1999)


‘Walking Victorian Spitalfields with Israel Zangwill’, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century (London: Birbeck, University of London), forthcoming

‘Jewish Fictions’ in Oxford History of the Novel ed. by Peter Boxall and Bryan Cheyette (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 347-367

‘From Domestic Paragon to Rebellious Daughter: Victorian Anglo-Jewish Women Writers’, chapter in British Jewish Women Writers ed. by Nadia Valman (Wayne State University Press, 2014), 10-34

‘Israel Zangwill, Children of the Ghetto (1892)’, in London Fictions ed. Andrew Whitehead and Jerry White (Five Leaves, 2013), 31-41

‘Bad Jew/Good Jewess: Gender and Semitic Discourse in Nineteenth-Century England’, in Philosemitism in History, ed. Jonathan Karp and Adam Sutcliffe (Cambridge University Press, 2011), 149-69

‘Amy Levy and the Literary Representation of the Jewess’, in Amy Levy: Critical Essays, ed. Naomi Hetherington and Nadia Valman (Ohio University Press, 2010), 90-109

‘Little Jew Boys Made Good: Immigration, Anglo-Jewish Fiction and the South African War’, in The ‘Jew' in Late-Victorian and Edwardian Culture: Between the East End and East Africa, ed. Eitan Bar-Yosef and Nadia Valman (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2009), 45-64

'The East End Bildungsroman from Israel Zangwill to Monica Ali', Wasafiri, 24.1 (2009), 3-8 doi:10.1080/02690050802588968

‘Between the East End and East Africa: Rethinking “the Jew” in Late-Victorian and Edwardian Culture’, introduction co-written with Eitan Bar-Yosef, in The ‘Jew’ in Late-Victorian and Edwardian Culture: Between the East End and East Africa (Palgrave, 2009), 1-27

‘“The Most Unforgettable Character I’ve Met”: Literary Representations of the Jewish Mother’, in For Generations: Jewish Mothers, ed. Mandy Ross and Ronne Randall (Five Leaves, 2005), 58-66 

‘Barbarous and Medieval: Jewish Marriage in Fin de Siècle English Fiction’, in The Image of the Jew in European Liberal Culture, 1789-1914, ed. Bryan Cheyette and Nadia Valman (Vallentine Mitchell, 2004), 111-129

‘“A Fresh-Made Garment of Citizenship”: Representing Jewish Identities in Victorian Britain’, Nineteenth Century Studies, 17 (2003), 35-45

‘Manly Jews: Disraeli, Jewishness and Gender’, in Disraeli’s Jewishness, ed Tony Kushner and Todd Endelman (Vallentine Mitchell, 2002), 62-101

‘Women Writers and the Campaign for Jewish Civil Rights in Early Victorian England’, in Women in British Politics, 1760-1860: The Power of the Petticoat, ed. Kathryn Gleadle and Sarah Richardson (Palgrave, 2000), 93-114

‘Jewish Girls and the Battle of Cable Street’ in Remembering Cable Street: Fascism and Anti-Fascism in British Society, ed. Tony Kushner and Nadia Valman (Vallentine Mitchell, 2000), 181-194

‘Semitism and Criticism: Victorian Anglo-Jewish Literary History’, Victorian Literature and Culture, 27.1 (1999), 235-248

‘Speculating upon human feeling: Evangelical writing and Anglo-Jewish women's autobiography’, in The Uses of Autobiography, ed. Julia Swindells (Taylor and Francis, 1995), 98-109

See also my Queen Mary Research Publications profile


PhD Supervision

I am currently supervising PhD projects on the representation of the San people in nineteenth-century British culture, London in South African writing, George Eliot and Germany, and Judaism in the suburban home. I would welcome enquiries from potential doctoral students interested in race, religion, gender and place in nineteenth century culture, Jewish cultural studies, and in nineteenth and twentieth-century literatures of London.

I have recently supervised the following successful PhD projects:

  • Katie Klein, 'Grace Aguilar’s Historical Romances' (2009)
  • Mindy Rubin, 'Walter Scott's 'Ivanhoe' and the Representation of Jews on the Nineteenth-Century Stage' (2012)
  • Angharad Eyre, 'Zeal and Sacrifice: The Power of the Female Missionary Discourse for Women and their Writing 1830-1900' (2014)

Public engagement

Public engagement has a key role in my work as an academic. I have hugely enjoyed developing new ways to open up my research to broader audiences through public talks, collaborations and new media. I regularly give talks on my research in museums and arts centres, including the Museum of London-Docklands, Bishopsgate Institute, Battersea Arts Centre, Rich Mix, Bethnal Green and Calvert 22 Gallery, Shoreditch. At Occupy My Time gallery in Deptford, I took part in a debate about Judaism, women and art with artists Sarah Lightman and Rachel Garfield. I performed a 9 minute stand-up routine on Victorians at London Zoo as part of ‘London Showoff’ in Shoreditch. I also enjoy speaking about my work to community groups, most recently at the Holocaust Survivors’ Centre, Hendon, the Arbour community centre, Mile End, the Jewish Historical Society of England, North Kensington Liberal Synagogue, and the Swadhinata Trust, Spitalfields.

I have developed a successful series of walking tours in east London, based on my research on Victorian literary texts. These include Shoreditch through the eyes of urban realist novelist Arthur Morrison, Jewish life in the Whitechapel ‘Ghetto’, a night walk in Soho, Jewish and Asian encounters in the pre-war East End, Victorian Ratcliffe. I also contributed to QMUL’s audio guide to the East End.

In a new collaborative project with the Jewish Museum and Soda Ltd, I curated material and wrote content for an innovative mobile app, ‘Zangwill’s Spitalfields’, a free downloadable walking guide to Spitalfields in the 1890s using Israel Zangwill’s 1892 novel of immigrant life, Children of the Ghetto and a range of visual, aural and textual sources.

With funding from the British Academy I have also collaborated with composer Sarha Moore and audio producer Natalie Steed to create two immersive audiowalks set in iconic East End streets, Ratcliffe Highway and Whitechapel Road in the Victorian period.

I appeared on Radio 4 and BBC1’s The One Show discussing the history and culture of the East End.

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