Representations of Jewish-Christian Relations in Literature


Literature is a powerful tool which can influence the way readers think and act. Evoking strong feelings and offering vivid imagery, literature can perpetuate age-old misconceptions, untruths and stereotypes.


This online course will provide participants with the opportunity to engage with various texts from English Literature through the lens of interfaith studies, to understand the narrative of deep-seated prejudices and to recognise the value of dialogue to dispel these views. In the 21st-century, what can we learn from literary works to effect greater understanding between one another?

Following introductory case-study sessions on Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare, participants will explore nineteenth century works by Maria Edgeworth, Charles Dickens and George Eliot and their 'literary friendships'. The course will also look at visual representations of some of the scenes and characters discussed.

The course is accessed via Hedwig which is hosted by the Cambridge Theological Federation.

Course structure

The course will begin with an online Induction Week which will allow participants the opportunity to reflect on why they have decided to take the course and engage with fellow participants.

The course is then divided into two modules during which you will receive set readings and various assignments. The individual topics of each module are as follows:

Module 1: Perpetuating Misconceptions & Stereotypes

Week 1: Geoffrey Chaucer & 'The Prioress's Tale' (in The Canterbury Tales)
Week 2: William Shakespeare & The Merchant of Venice

Module 2: Authors, Novels and Dialogue

Week 1: Maria Edgeworth, The Absentee & her correspondence with Rachel Mordecai Lazarus
Week 2: Maria Edgeworth, Harrington
Week 3: Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist & his correspondence with Eliza Davis
Week 4: Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend
Week 5: George Eliot, Daniel Deronda & her friendship with Emanuel Deutsch

During the Concluding Week, participants can reflect on, and share, their learning experiences.

Course timetable 2024

Dates for 2024 will be announced shortly.

Participants will have access to the general course information a few days before the course begins to familiarise themselves with this material.

Induction Week

Module 1: Perpetuating Misconceptions & Stereotypes

Module 2: Authors, Novels and Dialogue

Concluding Week

Application details

Interested in applying? Contact Emma Harris:

Before submitting your application, please read the Online Courses Booking Terms and Conditions and Refund Policy.

The course fee is £350 includes online access to the course and the course materials, tutor feedback and a Woolf Institute Certificate of Completion.