Dr Jessica Dubow
Department of Geography
Reader in Cultural Geography
+44 114 222 7957
Full contact details
Department of Geography
Geography and Planning Building
From South Africa, Jessica Dubow obtained her honours degree in Art History and Aesthetic Theory from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and her PhD in Cultural Geography from Royal Holloway College, University of London. Before joining Sheffield in 2005, she held a three-year postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the School of Geography, University of Nottingham.
- Research interests
- Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Theory
- Critical Theory (with specific focus on Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno)
- Continental Philosophy (with specific focus on Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Phenomenology and Ethics)
- Cultural Geographies
- Aesthetic Theory/Visual Practice
- Colonial and Post-colonial Studies (with specific reference to both colonial and post-apartheid South Africa)
With a background in art history and aesthetic theory and principal interests in philosophy and critical theory, I am committed to working outside of discrete academic boundaries and see cultural geography as a field in which a truly creative interdisciplinary scholarship might best be achieved. My current research project ('Thinking Outside the City Walls: Geography, Philosophy and the Jewish Body') is concerned with the philosophy and aesthetics of spatial perception as it relates to critical discourses of territoriality, 'nomadology' and the problem of the exilic body.
Looking at certain leading figures within a 20th-century Jewish European intellectual tradition (eg Benjamin, Adorno, Kafka, Levinas), I am concerned with the ways in which the experience of spatial displacement relates to the making and dynamic of critical thought. As such, the key questions this research poses are:
- How may mobility be understood less as the historical 'fate' of the 20th-century Jewish European intellectual, than as the structural precondition of a critical consciousness?
- What are the connections between geography and philosophy? the body's spatial negotiation and its theoretical deliberation?
- What is specific about a Judaic thought and identity that allows us to understand the shared ontology of diaspora and the making of a critical imagination?
In a related vein, I publish on the work of the German novelist WG Sebald as it frames the phenomenal processes of spatial and visual perception in narratives of trauma and testimony, past and present. Alongside this current project I maintain a research interest in issues of landscape, perception and identity in the context of South Africa's colonial past and post-apartheid present. Together with my published work in this area, I have previously co-curated a major exhibition of South African landscape art and practice and written catalogue essays to accompany the gallery exhibitions of notable UK and South African artists (eg Simon Lewty, Will Maclean, Karel Nel). More recently, academic work focusing on the art and animated films of William Kentridge has looked at the aesthetic response to the politics of memory, trauma and new nation-hood as formulated by South Africa's 'Truth and Reconciliation' Commission.
- Judaism’s other geographies: Franz Rosenzweig and the state of exile. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 34(3), 528-544. View this article in WRRO
- Introduction. Parallax, 19(4), 1-5.
- 'Patience, and Other Maps': On the Desert and the City. PARALLAX, 19(4), 49-62.
- Linguistic Cosmpolitans: Arendt, Čapek, Orwell. Journal of European Studies, 2(43), 119-140.
- Sebald's Parrot: Speaking The Archive. Comparative Literature, 1(65), 123-135.
- A therapeutics of exile: Isaiah Berlin, liberal pluralism and the psyche of assimilation. Environment and Planning A, 44(10), 2463-2476.
- Mapping Babel: Language and Exile in W.G. Sebald's Austerlitz.. New German Critique: an interdisciplinary journal of German studies.
- Outside of place and other than optical: Walter Benjamin and the geography of critical thought. J VIS CULT, 3(3), 259-274.
- History as the main complaint: William Kentridge and the making of post-apartheid South Africa. ART HIST, 27(4), 671-690.
- The mobility of thought: Reflections on Blanchot and Benjamin. Interventions, 6(2), 216-228.
- The cartographic eye: how explorers saw Australia.. ECUMENE, 6(3), 365-367.
- Future perfect?. Ecumene, 6(1), 110-113.
- Sebald's Parrot: Speaking the Archive. Comparative Literature.
- Place and Loss In Malpas J (Ed.), The Intelligence of Place: Topographies and Poetics Bloomsbury Academic
- Landscape, International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (pp. 124-131). Elsevier
- Landscape, International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (pp. 105-111). Elsevier
- Envisioning Landscapes, Making Worlds Routledge
Conference proceedings papers
- Teaching activities
I teach a range of modules at undergraduate level related to key themes and theoretical issues in contemporary cultural geography. I'm particularly interested in the interdisciplinary nature of cultural geography and so I encourage students to explore the many ways it opens onto the cognate fields of philosophy, aesthetic and critical theory, visual studies and history. From looking at the relationship between space and memory (especially as it concerns the representations of personal and national trauma) to the ways that philosophy and critical thought has a profound spatial basis, I'm very keen on encouraging undergraduates to think as creatively and widely as possible about our geographic lives and imaginations. I often use art, sculpture and films to enliven my undergraduate lectures and really enjoy the challenge of class discussion – and argument!
My specialist teaching on undergraduate courses includes:
GEO269 Social and Cultural Geography
GEO278 Cities and Modernities
GEO3001, Aesthetics, Philosophy and Place
I also teach on several Masters modules and convene two of them which focus particularly on the contemporary theoretical debates in Human Geography and how they draw on, and participate in, broader intellectual concerns in both the social sciences and the arts and humanities. I believe very strongly in 'reading' for a degree and believe that real academic scholarship – and enjoyment – comes from immersing oneself in the literature and using this as the basis for creative and challenging discussion. I am also dedicated to allowing students to think as openly as possible about their Masters dissertations and to use their personal passions – music, art, politics, animals, theatre, whatever! – to guide their research topics.
My teaching on Masters courses includes:
GEO6002 Research Design in Human Geography
GEO6003 Theoretical Issues in Human Geography
- 2015/6: Leverhulme Research Fellowship
- 2016: Research Fellowship, Frankel Institute of Adanced Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
- AHRC 'Archive of Exile' 2011-13