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Jay Prosser

Writer, Cultural Critic, Scholar



As Reader in Humanities at the University of Leeds, Jay is driven by how we can connect personal stories with cultural history, in order to answer some of the big questions of our time. His byline appears in Tablet Magazine, december, Jewish Renaissance, JewThink, and The Jewish Writing Project, among other places.  His latest book, Loving Strangers: A Camphorwood Chest, a Legacy, a Son Returns, which was winner of BIO's 2020 Hazel Rowley Prize and shortlisted for the 2019 Tony Lothian Prize, is due to be published with Black Spring Press in 2024.   


Jay has written and edited several books, on topics from transsexual life stories, to photographs of loss. He has led a number of award-winning international research projects, which have given him the opportunity to collaborate with artists, musicians, journalists, and many cultural and charity organisations.


Jay was a Fulbright Scholar at the City University of New York, from where he received his PhD.

Jay is an active member and on the steering committee of York Liberal Jews, a community that was established a thousand years after one of the worst pogroms in medieval Europe wiped out the Jews of York. As the community's social action officer and Holocaust scroll representative, Jay places 'Tikkun Olam' (the Jewish desire to heal a broken world) at the heart of everything: his faith, his social activism, and his writing:

'If it doesn't change anything for the better, what's the point?'



Loving Strangers: A Camphorwood Chest, a Legacy, a Son Returns

unpacks a family archive. The one item of furniture my mother brought with her from Singapore when she migrated to England, the camphorwood chest holds the photographs, documents, letters, and precious keepsakes handed down through generations.




Light in the dark room.jpg
Picturing Atrocity.jpg

‘Examining the powerful drive that leads men and women literally to shed their skins and -- in mind and body -- to cross the boundary of sex, Prosser argues that sex change is, at best, a narrative. Transsexuals make for adept and absorbing authors.'

‘When we look at a photograph, we see a moment that is no more. Photographs place reality into the past tense, representing not memory but memory’s loss. They are not conduits for
the return of memory but memento mori: reminders of the fact of death itself. And it is in this, Jay Prosser tells us, that we find the gift of photography.’

'It is impossible to look at photographs of violence and suffering without questioning our role as voyeur. Are we desensitized by the proliferation of images? Or do they stir our sense of justice and act as a call to arms?’

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