Dr Isabel Wollaston BA, PhD (Dunelm)

Department of Theology and Religion
Senior Lecturer in Jewish and Holocaust Studies

Contact details

ERI Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

My main teaching and research interests, and the majority of my publications, relate to the Holocaust and contemporary Jewish-Christian relations (post 1945). I work closely with institutions active in these areas, such as the Holocaust Centre, Beth Shalom. I am currently co-convener (with my colleague Charlotte Hempel) of Mosaic – the Birmingham Society for Jewish Studies.

I served as editor of Reviews in Religion and Theology from 1997-2005.

Currently, I am co-investigator with Charlotte Hempelon a three year educational project Jewish Heritage and Culture: Birmingham Perspectives which serves as a framework for hosting regular high quality education programmes and public lectures in Jewish Studies


Isabel’s first academic appointment was as Sir James Knott Fellow in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (1989-1991). She then spent a year as British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies (1991-1992), before moving to Birmingham in 1992.

Isabel was a member of the Steering Committee of the international conference Remembering for the Future 2000: The Holocaust in an Age of Genocide (Oxford, 2000). Together with Jonathan Webber, she co-convened the 5th European Association for Jewish Studies Summer Colloquium, Teaching the Holocaust in Higher Education in Europe (held at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, 2003). In 2005 Isabel served as President of the British Association for Jewish Studies, and organized the Association’s annual conference on Women in the Jewish World: Myth and Reality, Yesterday and Today (held in Birmingham).



  • Introduction to Jewish and Holocaust studies (with Charlotte Hempel)
  • Introduction to the study of religion (with Martin Stringer)
  • Representations of the Holocaust
  • Jewish religious responses to the Holocaust
  • Christian-Jewish relations since 1945


  • Historical and contemporary debates on the Holocaust

Postgraduate supervision

  • Holocaust studies, with a particular interest in Jewish and Christian religious responses to the Holocaust, representations of the Holocaust (particularly in memorials, museums, photographs, film, art, and testimony), gender and the Holocaust, national memories/nativization of the Holocaust, the Kindertransports, Holocaust education
  • The creation and evolution of Holocaust Memorial Days and of international commemoration of the Holocaust
  • Contemporary Jewish-Christian relations ( post 1945)
  • Theology and the problem of evil in the 20th and 21st centuries, with a particular interest in memorializing catastrophe/disaster/mass death



  • Jewish and Christian religious/theological responses to the Holocaust
  • Jewish-Christian relations post 1945, particularly the ‘Christianization’ of the Holocaust
  • Visual representations of the Holocaust (in memorials, photographs, film, and art)
  • The representation of the Holocaust, and/or of Jewishness and Judaism, and/or Jewish-Christian relations in museums
  • Post-Holocaust biblical hermeneutics and the post-Holocaust representation of biblical figures (particularly the Akedah, Job and Jesus) in a range of media

Other activities

  • School Head of Education
  • School programme and Module Coordinator



  • (Ed.) with Kay Read, Suffer the Little Children? Reflections on the Cross, Urban Violence and Sacred Space (Birmingham: University of Birmingham Press, 2001)
  • A War against Memory? The Future of Holocaust Remembrance (London: SPCK, 1996)
  • (Ed.) with Jon G. Davies, The Sociology of Sacred Texts, (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993)

Articles and chapters in books

  • The Absent, the Partial and the Iconic in Archival Photographs of the Holocaust’, Jewish Culture and History, special issue.
  • ‘Post-Holocaust Jewish Interpretations of Job’ in Michael Lieb, Jonathan Roberts & Emma Mason(eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the Reception History of the Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011): 488-501
  • ‘Swimming against the Tide: Melissa Raphael’s Contribution to the Study of Jewish Religious Responses to the Holocaust’, Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History 15:3 (2011) 28-46
  • ‘Post-Holocaust Jewish Interpretations of Job’ in The Oxford Handbook of the Reception History of the Bible, Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology (eds. M. Lieb, J. Roberts & E. Mason), (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011)
  •  ‘Yad Vashem and the “Hot” Topics in Christian-Jewish Relations Today’ in No Going Back: Letters to Pope Benedict XVI on the Holocaust, Jewish-Christian Relations and Israel (eds. C. Rittner & S.D. Smith), (London: Quill Press, 2009)
  • Where He is? This is Where - Hanging Here from this Gallows. An Exploration of the Child-hanging Scene in Elie Wiesel’s Night in Natalie Watson and Stephen Burns, eds. Exchanges of Grace: Essays in Honour of Ann Loades (London, 2008)
  • ‘Ecumenical Deal’, ‘Holocaust’, ‘Holocaust Memorial Days’ and ‘Museums’ in A Dictionary of Jewish-Christian Relations (eds. E. Kessler & N. Wenborn), (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005)
  • ‘Negotiating the Marketplace: The Role(s) of Holocaust Museums Today’, Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 4:1 (2005) 63-80
  • ‘“Telling the Tale”: The Self-Representation and Reception of Elie Wiesel’ in Edward Kessler & Melanie Wright (eds) Themes in Jewish-Christian Relations. Orchard Academic (Cambridge 2005)
  • ‘Encountering Evil: Twenty Years On’, Reviews in Religion and Theology 9:1 (2002)
  • ‘“A War against Memory?” Nativizing the Holocaust’ in John K. Roth and Elisabeth Maxwell (eds.), Remembering for the Future: The Holocaust in an Age of Genocide, Volume 3: Memory (eds. J.K. Roth & E. Maxwell), (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001)
  • ‘The Possibility and Plausibility of Divine Abusiveness or Sadism as the Premise for a Religious Response to the Holocaust’, Journal of Religion and Society 2 (2000)
  • ‘Responses to Anti-Judaism and Antisemitism in Contemporary Christian-Jewish Relations’ in Dan Cohn-Sherbok (ed.), The Future of Jewish-Christian Dialogue (Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, 1999): 31-48
  • ‘All or Nothing? Daphne Hampson’s After Christianity‘, Reviews in Religion and Theology 4:3 (1997): 7-13
  • ‘Religious Language after the Holocaust’ in Frances Young (ed.), Dare We Speak of God in Public? (London: Mowbray, 1995): 80-89
  • ‘Traditions of Remembrance: Post-Holocaust Interpretations of Genesis 22’ in Jon G. Davies, Graham Harvey and Wilfred Watson (eds.), Words Remembered, Texts Renewed: Essays in Honour of John A. Sawyer (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995): 41-51
  • ‘Theorizing Film’, Reviews in Religion and Theology 5:2 (1998): 5-10
  • ‘Sharing Sacred Space: The Carmelite Controversy and the Politics of Commemoration’, Patters of Prejudice 28:3-4 (1994): 19-27
  • ‘Shapes of Memory: Reflection on the Holocaust’, Reviews in Religion and Theology 1:3 (1994): 9-16
  • ‘Remembering the Holocaust’, Theology 96:771 (1993): 191-99
  • ‘What Can – and Cannot Be Said: Religious Language after the Holocaust’, Literature and Theology 6:1 (1992): 47-5


Educational-related publications

  • ‘Challenges for Theological Training’ in Carol Rittner, Stephen D. Smith and Irena Steinfeldt (eds.), The Holocaust and the Christian World: Reflections on the Past, Challenges for the Future (London: Kuperard, 2000): 189-91, available online at
  • Auschwitz and the Politics of Commemoration, Holocaust Educational Trust Research Papers 1:5 (1999-2000)
  • Christian Responses to the Holocaust, Farmington Papers: Philosophy of Religion 5 (Oxford: Farmington Institute for Christian Studies, 1999)