Vardit Lightstone

Ph.D. Candidate


M.A. Folklore and Folk Culture, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2015
B.A. (Hons.) Celtic Studies and Jewish Studies, University of Toronto, 2010


My research focuses on the personal narratives, performed in Yiddish, of immigrants from Eastern Europe to Canada, most of whom immigrated in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. I am also interested in questions of genre, authority, heritage, and nostalgia as they arise in personal narratives.

In addition to my work on verbal performances, I have worked with visual and folk art, as well as theatre, and the interface between all these different types of cultural expression; language(s) as a tool for creating, expressing, and contesting identity; and the politics of the folklore and heritage discourses.
I am participating in a Joint Educational Placement PhD program with the Folklore and Folk Culture Program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as well as the Collaborative Program in Jewish Studies at UofT. I am completing my PhD under the guidance of Anna Shternshis (UofT) and Dani Schrire (HebrewU).

Select Awards/Distinctions

  • Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Doctoral Scholarship, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), 2020-17
  • Peter Lougheed Graduate Fellowship in Canadian Studies, Halbert Center for Canadian Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2019-18
  • Research Fellow, Daat Hamakom, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2018-17
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS), 2016-17 (declined)
  • Israel and Golda Koschitzky Graduate Fellow, Center for Jewish Studies, University of Toronto, 2015-16
  • Raphael Patai Award for exceptional M.A. work in Folklore at The Hebrew University 2014-15 (תשע"ה)
  • Dean’s List Scholar in the Faculty of Humanities at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for the 2012-13 (תשע"ג) school year
  • Kaete Klausner Scholarshipfor the 2012-13 (תשע"ג) ,2013-14 ,(תשע"ד), and 2014-15 (תשע"ה) school years
  • Walter Plaut Foundation Scholarship in Jewish and Comparative Folklorefor the 2012-2013 (תשע"ג) school year
  • Recipient of the Michael’s College Silver Medal, November 2010
  • Three time Dean’s List Scholar in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at the University of Toronto, 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years
  • Recipient of Irene J. McGovern & John Ward McGovern In-Course Scholarshipfor 2007-08 school year

Internet Publications

  • 2016: “How Do You Say "Parents" in Yiddish?.” In geveb (May 2016)

Conference Participation

  • 2018 “Traditional Innovation: An analysis of the folk literature of Yiddish speaking immigrants”, The Association for Canadian Jewish Studies’ Annual Conference, Montreal, Que, May 2018 (Forthcoming)
  • 2017 "“The subjects that I decide to paint are those that have a story to tell”: The word–image problematic and voice in They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland before the Holocaust", Uncovering Interactions between Visual and Verbal media, University of Toronto, March 2017
  • 2016 “Can a Storyteller Write Ethnography? A (Re)Consideration of Tomás Criomhthain’s Irish Autobiography, An tOileánach”, International Society of Folk and Narrative Research and American Folklore Society Joint Meeting, Miami, October 2016
  • 2016 “The Question of Voices in the Autobiography, They Called Me Mayer July”, The Fourteenth Annual Conference for Graduate Students in Jewish Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, March 2016