Rebecca Rovit

Associate Professor
Ph.D., Florida State University
Primary office:
Murphy Hall
Room 228


Rebecca Rovit joined the KU faculty in August 2009. She teaches Script Analysis, Theatre History, and topics related to historiography, cultural memory, modern European theatre, and performance and genocide at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

During 2016-17 Dr. Rovit was a Fulbright-IFK Senior Fellow in Cultural Studies in Vienna, Austria. She worked on her second major book that examines German-language theatre performance in the direct aftermath of World War II, titled "From the Rubble of War to Occupation: Rebuilding Cultural Landscapes in Berlin and Vienna."

Dr. Rovit is known for her research expertise that explores the cultural heritage of the Holocaust (1933-1945), including art produced by prisoner-artists in situ and the role of the performing arts under duress: within Nazi Germany, and in ghetto and camp settings. Her 2012 micro-history, The Jewish Kulturbund Theatre Company in Nazi Berlin( Iowa University Press) was designated by Choice Magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2013. She co-edited (with Alvin Goldfarb), Theatrical Performance during the Holocaust: Texts, Documents, Memoirs (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), a Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. Her numerous publications appear in such journals as American Theatre, PAJ, TDR, Theatre Survey, the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, The Journal of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and Theatre History Studies. Dr. Rovit was the Editor for the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism between 2015-2018. She also served as guest editor for the journal with a special section on Witnessing History, Performing Trauma (Spring 2013).

Dr. Rovit has received research fellowships from the U.S. Fulbright Scholar Program (to Austria), the American Philosophical Society; the American Council of Learned Societies, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum; the Deutscher Akademische Austauchsdienst, and The Jewish Memorial Foundation for Culture; as well as grants from KU's Hall Center for the Humanities, where she co-directed an interdisciplinary seminar for faculty and graduate students on “Facing Genocide and Its Aftermath" (2013-14). In Spring 2016, she was a Visiting Senior Associate at Pembroke College, University of Oxford (UK).

Besides lecturing independently in the U.S. and in Europe, Dr. Rovit has taught courses in theatre history, play analysis, and modern drama at Illinois State University and Indiana University (Bloomington).

She holds a Ph.D. in Theatre History from Florida State University, an MA in German language and literature from the University of Virginia, and a BA from Bucknell University.

*Full CV available upon request.

Teaching Interests

  • Script Analysis
  • Theatre History: Historiography
  • Theatre & Genocide
  • Cultural Memory


Rovit Statement of Program of Research/Scholarship

In its broadest aspect, my historical research examines the role of the arts under duress, especially related to genocide and its aftermath. It explores the cultural heritage of the Holocaust, specifically the theatre created by artist-inmates in camp and ghetto settings. Among my areas of focus are the “aftermath” of the Holocaust to consider (1) the rebuilding of cultural life in the wake of war (2) the theatrical representation of genocide, and (3) how theatre can overcome divisions and re-create community.

My work addresses gaps in the historical record by documenting the specific ways in which theatre existed during the Holocaust. Such representative publications as my “Cultural Ghettoization and Theatre during the Holocaust” (2005) and my monograph (2012), show that art-making by artist-inmates under the threat of censorship, deprivation, and death was not an isolated phenomenon. The Jewish Kulturbund Theatre Company in Nazi Berlin is a microhistory of an all-Jewish theatre company that coexisted with the Nazi regime. My research relies on in-depth archival work, which, in combination with personal interviews of witness-artists, “interrogates” documented cultural history and biography. My analysis extends to play-scripts, production history, audience reception, and the Nazi policy that shaped that history.

My second major book project focuses on post-war German-language theatre under multinational military occupation in the aftermath of WWII. I consider the cultural significance of "first responder" theatre-makers in Berlin and Vienna, examining the relationship between their cultural output and the policies by multinational occupation forces that affected the performing arts repertoire. My inquiry incorporates assumptions from cultural memory and trauma studies as I connect historiographical questions with a theoretically-bolstered methodology to study the renewal of German-language theatre and its reception after genocide and the Cold War.

Research Interests

  • Modern European Drama
  • Jewish Artistic production in Nazi Germany
  • Theatre and Genocide
  • Historiography
  • Cultural Memory
  • Trauma Studies

Selected Publications

Rovit, R. (2018). "Assessing Theatre under Duress: 'Tracking' Theatre Repertoire in the Jewish Kulturbund and in the Camps under National Socialism". In B. Dalinger & V. Zangl (Eds.), Theatre under the NS-Regime, 2018, pp. 17-32. Göttingen (Germany): V&R Uni Press, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Verlagsgruppe.

Rovit, R. (in press). Parsing the Jewish Question: Ethical Witnessing, Tabori's Legacy, and the Theatrical Representation of the Holocaust . In D. Z. Saltz & M. Kagel (Eds.), Taboos That Must Be Broken: Holocaust Theatre and the Legacy of George Tabori. University of Michigan Press.

Rovit, R. (2016). "Berlin's 'First Responder' Artists, 1945-46: Theatre and Politics from the Rubble." . Theatre History Studies, 35, 7-38.

Rovit, R. (2014). “Cracks in the Berlin Wall: Identity, Remembrance, and the Jewish Kulturbund Theatre". Special feature published with DVD release of East German films, Die Schauspielerin (The Actress, 1988) and Spuren (Traces, 1989). University of Massachusetts (Amherst): DEFA Film Library.

Rovit, R. (Ed.). (2013). "Re-Embodying the Historical Archive of the Wannsee Conference: Trauma and the Moral Imperative". The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, 27(2), 167-182.

Rovit, R. (Ed.). (2013). Editor, Witnessing History, Performing Trauma: A Special Section (Introduction, pp. 45-52). The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, 27(2), 45-179.

Rovit, R. (2012). "Kulturbund Deutscher Juden". In D. Diner (Ed.), Enzyklopaedie jüdischer Geschichte und Kultur (Vol. III, pp. 444-448.). Stuttgart, Germany: Metzler Verlag.

Rovit, R. (2012). The Jewish Kulturbund Theatre Company in Nazi Berlin, Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.

Rovit, R. (2005). "Cultural Ghettoization and Theatre during the Holocaust: Performance as a Link to Community". The Journal of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 19( 3), 459-486.

Rovit, R. & Goldfarb, A. (Eds.). (1999). Theatrical Performance during the Holocaust: Texts, Documents, Memoirs (R. Rovit & A. Goldfarb, Eds.). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Selected Work

Director, If the Whole Body Dies: Raphael Lemkin and the Treaty Against Genocide, by Robert Skloot, staged reading (with Skloot as Lemkin), William Inge Memorial Theatre, University of Kansas, 03/03/2011

Selected Presentations

Rovit, R. Symposium Organizer (06/24/19). Facing Genocide in its Aftermath: The Performing Arts & Memorialization. University of Vienna (Austria), Institute for Theatre, Film, Media Studies.

Rovit, R. (06/10/18). Reclaiming Heimat: Hubs of Exile, Migrating Histories, and Theatre in occupied post-war Vienna. Historiography Working Group. International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR), Belgrade, Serbia.

Rovit, R. (11/19/2017). Liberated or Occupied Theatrical Bodies? Central European Memory and Cultural Diplomacy in Post WWII Vienna, ASTR. Atlanta, Georgia.

Rovit, R. (01/11/2017). Guest Lecture: "History and Identity in the Kulturbund Theatre" . University course on "Theatre and Film under the Nazi Regime". University of Vienna (Austria)

Rovit, R. (11/30/2016). From the Rubble to Renewal.Theatre in Occupied Berlin and Vienna, 1945-48. Centre for Global History, Institut für Theaterwissenschaft. University of Munich (Germany). Available Here

Rovit, R. (10/24/2016). "First Responder" Artists, 1945-1948: Theatre--from the Rubble to Renewal. IFK Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften, Vienna. Available Here

Rovit, R. (06/02/2016). Renewing a Legacy: The Jewish Cultural League in Nazi Germany . University of York (UK). Available Here

Rovit, R. (11/08/2015). Magna Carta 2015: Sites of Cultural Remembrance and Trauma. ASTR (American Society for Theatre Research). Portland, Oregon

Rovit, R. (05/14/2015). The Jewish Kulturbund in Nazi Germany: Identity, Remembrance, and Repertoire. School of Culture and Creative Arts (Theatre Studies), and The Goethe Institute Glasgow (co-sponsor). University of Glasgow (UK)

Rovit, R. (02/27/2015). Parsing the "Jewish Question": Ethical Witnessing and the Theatrical Representation of the Holocaust. International Conference on George Tabori and the Theatre of the Holocaust . University of Georgia (Athens, GA)

Rovit, R. (10/24/2014). Theatre under Duress, An Assessment: The Jewish Kulturbund, and Theatre in the Camps. Theatre Under the NS-Regime. University of Vienna . Vienna, Austria

Rovit, R. (08/14/2014). Engaging Art for Peace: Theatre and the Moral Imagination as a Dialogic Means for Ethical Witnessing. International Peace Research Association (IPRA) General Conference, Art and Peace Commision. Istanbul, Turkey

Rovit, R. (07/22/2013). Re-rooting Berlin’s cultural landscape: Theatre and Politics, 1945-1949. International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR). Barcelona, Spain

Rovit, R. (01/19/2012). The Jewish Kulturbund Theatre. Guest Speaker, Villa Wannsee. The Holocaust Theatre Collection (occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference). Berlin, Germany

Selected Grants

Rovit, Rebecca, (Principal), Specialist in Theatre & Genocide. Conflict and Resolution Studies. Fulbright Specialist Program, J. William Fulbright Scholarship Board (& World Learning). (2018-2021).

Rovit, Rebecca, (Fulbright Specialist), University of Vienna (Austria), Institute of Theatre, Film, and Media Studies. (05/20/19-06/30/19).

Rovit, Rebecca, (Principal), “Reclaiming Heimat: Hubs of Exile, Migrating Histories, and Theatre in occupied post-war Vienna.”, General Research Fund, School of the Arts, (06/20/18-07/15/18).

Rovit, Rebecca, (Principal), “From the Rubble of War to Occupation: Rebuilding Cultural Landscapes in Berlin and Vienna, 1945-55.”, U.S. Fulbright Scholars Program to Vienna, Austria, IFK Senior Fellow in Cultural Studies, (09/21/2016 - 02/07/2017).

Rovit, Rebecca, (Principal), Rebuilding Cultural Landscapes in Berlin and Vienna, General Research Fund, School of the Arts, (07/01/2016 - 08/31/2016).

Rovit, Rebecca, (Researcher), Visiting Senior Associate Fellow, Oxford, (04/23/2016 - 06/18/2016).

Rovit, Rebecca L., (Principal), “Out of the Rubble–Rebuilding Berlin’s Cultural Landscape: A German Reckoning, 1946-1962” , General Research Fund, School of the Arts, (07/01/2014 - 08/15/2014)

Rovit, Rebecca L., Pearce, Margaret W, Facing Genocide and Its Aftermath, Hall Center for Humanities, Submitted 03/01/2013 (08/23/2013 - 04/30/2014).

Rovit, Rebecca L., (Principal), "Re-rooting" Berlin's Cultural Landscape: Theatre and Politics, 1945-1946, Office of International Programs International Travel Fund for Humanities Research (08/31/2013).

Rovit, Rebecca, (Principal), A Theatre for the People and the GDR, 1946-1962, University of Kansas, Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies, (09/01/2011 - 05/27/2013) .

Rovit, Rebecca, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), (08/01/2004 - 12/31/2004) .

Rovit, Rebecca, Culture in Ghetto Settings, Europe, 1933-1945, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC, (07/30/2001 - 08/10/2001) .

Rovit, Rebecca, “Starred Representatives and Representation: Jewish Identity Onstage in Nazi Germany.”, American Council of Learned Societies, (07/01/1997 - 05/31/1998)

Rovit, Rebecca, Research Grant, American Philosophical Society, - 08/31/1996)



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