“Funny, you don’t look Jewish”: Authenticity and Identity
Simon Schama, Alice Sherwood
Discovering her close friend and boss was a conman prompted Alice Sherwood’s lifelong interest in authenticity and identity, topics she explores in her award-winning book, Authenticity: Reclaiming Reality in a Counterfeit Culture. With a rich range of stories, many of which – from the world’s greatest impostor, the human chameleon who inspired Woody Allen’s Zelig, to the Bronx-born designer accused of copying by a French couturier – explore some of the complexities of the Jewish immigrant experience, she argues for a new understanding of what it means to be authentic. Alice is in conversation with Simon Schama, whose two volume The Story of the Jews explores the ambiguities of Jewish identity from 5th century BC Egyptian Israelites to the Marrano diaspora.
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Alice Sherwood is the author of the award-winning Authenticity: Reclaiming Reality in a Counterfeit Culture (HarperCollins 2022), which argues that although our counterfeit culture is shaped by the most powerful forces of evolution, economics and technology, we can still come together to reclaim reality. Currently a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Policy Institute at King’s College London, she also sits on the board of an open source intelligence company, chairs the Rising Tide women’s network, and has served as a trustee of the Hay Festival Foundation and the London Library.
The Jewish Chronicle
Sir Simon Schama, CBE is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University and a Contributing Editor of the Financial Times. He is the author of nineteen books and the writer-presenter of fifty documentaries on art, history and literature for BBC2. His art criticism for The New Yorker won the National Magazine Award for criticism in 1996; his film on Bernini from The Power of Art won an Emmy in 2007 and his series on British history and The American Future: a History, Broadcast Critics Guild awards. He won the NCR non-fiction prize for Citizens, National Book Critics Circle award for Rough Crossings, the WH Smith Literary Award for Landscape and Memory. In 2015 he received the Premio Antonio Feltrinelli in historical sciences from the Accademia nazionale dei Lincei in Rome. His The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words was published in 2015 and the second volume Belonging in 2017. In the autumn of 2016, The Face of Britain, a history of British portraiture appeared as a five-part BBC television series; a book and an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. In 2018, Civilizations, a nine-part BBC television series on world art, of which he wrote and presented five. In May 2019, Wordy: Sounding off on high art, low appetite and the power of memory, was published, and in the spring of 2021 his BBC series The Romantic and Us was aired. At present, he is working on Foreing Bodies, his twentieth publication, and in a new BBC series titled Brave New World. Image cr. Charlie Bibby
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