Rebecca L. Rovit

Rebecca Rovit
  • Associate Professor
  • Script Analysis, Theatre History, Modern European Drama, Jewish Artistic production in Nazi Germany, Theatre and Genocide
  • On sabbatical Spring 2024

Contact Info

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.

She is spending Spring 2024 as a Senior Guest Researcher in Vienna at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Affiliated with the Institute for Cultural Studies and Theatre History, she is working on her monograph, “Theatre from the Rubble of War: Cultural Crossings in Berlin and Vienna, 1945-55.”

Dr. Rovit was a Fulbright Specialist (2018-2023) of “Theatre and Genocide” within the broader category of Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies. In summer 2019, she was affiliated with the University of Vienna (Department of Theatre, Film, and Media Studies), where she taught MA students, using the city of Vienna as a site for embodied remembrance of the Holocaust. She also organized a symposium on “Memorializing Genocide” and the Performing Arts. This was a return visit to Austria under the auspices of the US Fulbright program.

During 2016-17 Dr. Rovit was a Fulbright-IFK Senior Fellow in Cultural Studies in Vienna. She is working on her second major book that examines German-language theatre performance in the direct aftermath of World War II, titled "Theatre from the Rubble of War in Berlin and Vienna, 1945-55" for which she received a KU Hall Center of Humanities Resident Faculty Fellowship in Fall 2020. Her comparative study builds on 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, 2015-2018, and now serves on the Advisory Board for the journal. 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.


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, as well as directly after war. Accordingly, 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 is comparative in nature and focuses on post-war German-language theatre under multinational military occupation in the aftermath of WWII. In a 2016 article (published in _Theatre History Studies_), I lay the groundwork for the cultural significance of "first responder" theatre-makers in Berlin and Vienna to examine the relationship between their cultural output and the policies by multinational occupation forces that affected the performing arts repertoire. My historiographical 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 under Duress
  • Theatre and Genocide
  • Theatre Historiography
  • Cultural Memory
  • Trauma Studies


Teaching interests:

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

Selected Publications

Rovit, Rebecca. Forthcoming, 2024. “Brechtian Resistance and the Third Reich: Günther Weisenborn’s Dramaturgy of the ‘Placeless Stage.’” Brecht Yearbook 49.

Rovit, Rebecca. 2022. “Parsing the Jewish Question: Ethical Witnessing, Tabori, and the Theatrical Representation of the Holocaust,” Taboos That Must Be Broken: Holocaust Theatre and the Legacy of George Tabori, eds. David Z. Saltz and Martin Kagel. University of Michigan Press, 2022, 85-105.

Rovit, Rebecca L. 2021. “1. Historical Essay, Alfred Aaron Lichtenstein and His Flute (Object #41), ‘From a Successful Career across Europe to Persecution and Emigration.’<br>2. Personal Story: Gerda Lichtenstein:‘A Woman behind a Man’s Success.’” Software or Multimedia. Forthcoming, Web, October 2021. Print Book Chapters, 2022. Berlin (Germany), NY (USA): Leo Baeck Institute.

Rovit, Rebecca. 2018. “‘Assessing Theatre under Duress: “Tracking” Theatre Repertoire in the Jewish Kulturbund and in the Camps under National Socialism.’” Book Chapters. In Theatre under the NS-Regime,  2018, Pp. 15-30., edited by Brigitte Dalinger and Veronika Zangl. Göttingen (Germany): V&R Uni Press, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Verlagsgruppe.

Rovit, Rebecca. 2016. “‘Berlin’s “First Responder” Artists, 1945-46: Theatre and Politics from the Rubble.’ .” Journal Articles. Theatre History Studies 35 (September): 7–38.

Rovit, Rebecca. 2014. ““Cracks in the Berlin Wall: Identity, Remembrance, and the Jewish Kulturbund Theatre".” Other. 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.  .

. 2013. “‘Re-Embodying the Historical Archive of the Wannsee Conference: Trauma and the Moral Imperative.’” Journal Articles. Edited by Rebecca Rovit. Witnessing History, Performing Trauma: A Special Section 27 (2): 167–82.

. 2013. “Editor, Witnessing History, Performing Trauma: A Special Section (Introduction, Pp. 45-52).” Journal Articles. Edited by Rebecca Rovit. The Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 27 (2): 45–179.

Rovit, Rebecca. 2012. “‘Kulturbund Deutscher Juden.’” Encyclopedia/Dictionary Entries. Edited by Dan Diner. Enzyklopaedie Jüdischer Geschichte Und Kultur. Stuttgart, Germany: Metzler Verlag.

Rovit, Rebecca. 2012. The Jewish Kulturbund Theatre Company in Nazi Berlin. Books. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.

Rovit, Rebecca. 2005. “‘Cultural Ghettoization and Theatre during the Holocaust: Performance as a Link to Community.’” Journal Articles. The Journal of Holocaust and Genocide Studies 19 (3): 459–86.

Rovit, Rebecca, and Alvin Goldfarb, eds. 1999. Theatrical Performance during the Holocaust: Texts, Documents, Memoirs. Books. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Selected Presentations

Rovit, R. (12/12/22) “Günther Weisenborn’s Dramaturgy of the “Placeless Stage”: Brechtian Resistance and  the Third Reich." International Symposium: “Bertolt Brecht in Dark Times: Racism, Political Oppression, and Dictatorship” "wandering” conference, Israel (Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem).

Rovit, R. (11/2/22) invited Lecture: “Legacies of Genocide: Mauthausen and its Memorialization.” Webinair 2022-2023 Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center (KHC)-NEH colloquium, “Trauma, Remembrance, and Compassion,” CUNY/Queensborough Community College, in conjunction with KHC exhibition, The Concentration Camps: Inside the Nazi System of Incarceration and Genocide. 12 noon (ET). 

Rovit, R. (6/22/22) “‘Rak Ivrit,’ Exile Cabaret from Vienna to Tel Aviv: Stella Kadmon’s Polyphonic Repertoire in the Diaspora, 1940,” IFTR World Congress, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Rovit, R. (3/25/22), Invited Panel: “Gerda Lichtenstein,” Using Personal Stories in Online Projects: Women’s Stories in the Shared  History Project, Webinair, Leo Baeck Institute, 25, 12 noon (ET).

Rovit, R. (11/30/2020). Camp Commemoration: Embodied Remembrance and Performing Identity at Mauthausen. ASTR Virtual (on "Zoom"). VIRTUAL

Rovit, R. (10/24/20) “Theatre from the Rubble in Berlin and Vienna, 1945-1955.” The Hall Center for Humanities. University of Kansas, Zoom.

Rovit, R. (7/14/2020). “Sustaining Theatre from the Rubble of War: Historiographical Fractures in Berlin and Vienna, 1945-1949”. International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) Virtual Working Group, Historiography. ZOOM (Galway, Ireland time)

Rovit, R. (11/7/2019). Memorializing Mauthausen: Public Performance in Violated Spaces. American Society of Theatre Research (ASTR). Arlington, Virginia

Rovit, R. (6/24/2019). Facing Genocide in its Aftermath: The Performing Arts & Memorialization. Symposium Organizer and Moderator. University of Vienna (Austria), Institute for Theatre, Film, Media Studies

Rovit, R. (11/16/2018). Arousing Austria’s “Victim Pride”: Memorializing Cultural Violence in Vienna and Thomas Bernhard’s Heldenplatz. Association of Theatre Research (ASTR). San Diego, California

Rovit, R. (7/10/2018). Reclaiming Heimat: Hubs of Exile, Migrating Histories, and Theatre in occupied post-war Vienna. International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR). Belgrade, Serbia

Rovit, R. (11/19/2017). "Liberated or Occupied Bodies? Central European Memory and Cultural Diplomacy in Post-WWII Vienna.". Imagining an Other "Eastern Europe": Performances of Difference in Central-Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and Russia, ASTR (American Society for Theatre Research). Atlanta (GA)

Rovit, R. (1/11/2017). 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).

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

Rovit, R. (6/2/2016). Renewing a Legacy: The Jewish Cultural League in Nazi Germany. University of York (UK).

Rovit, R. (11/8/2015). Magna Carta 2015: Sites of Cultural Remembrance and Trauma. ASTR (American Society for Theatre Research). Portland, Oregon

Rovit, R. (5/14/2015). 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. L. (2/27/2015). 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. L. (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. L. (8/14/2014). 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. L. (7/22/2013). Re-rooting Berlin’s cultural landscape: Theatre and Politics, 1945-1949. International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR). Barcelona, Spain

Rovit, R. L. (1/19/2012). The Jewish Kulturbund Theatre. Guest Speaker, Villa Wannsee. The Holocaust Theatre Collection (occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference). Berlin, Germany

Creative Works

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. 3/3/2011

Awards & Honors

Fulbright Specialist (2018-2023)
US Fulbright Programs, World Learning, University of Vienna (Austria)

U.S. Fulbright Scholars Program to Vienna, Austria, IFK Senior Fellow in Cultural Studies
2016 - 2017

Visiting Senior Associate Fellow (Trinity Term)
Pembroke College, University of Oxford (UK)

Grants & Other Funded Activity

Theatre from the Rubble in Berlin and Vienna, 1945-1955.” Research Residency. The Hall Center for Humanities. Submitted 11/1/2019 (9/1/2020 - 1/31/2021). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded

Fulbright Specialist, Theatre & Genocide, 2018-2023 (Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies).. U.S Fulbright Program, University of Vienna (Austria) 2019. (5/20/2019 - 6/30/2019). Federal. Status: Funded. Specialist, Peace Building and Conflict Resolution (Summer 2019, Vienna)

Reclaiming Heimat: Hubs of Exile, Migrating Histories, and Theatre in occupied post-war Vienna.. General Research Fund. Submitted 4/1/2018 (7/1/2018 - 8/31/2018). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded

“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. (9/21/2016 - 2/7/2017). Federal. Status: Funded

Rebuilding Cultural Landscapes in Berlin and Vienna. General Research Fund, School of the Arts. $4218.75. (7/1/2016 - 8/31/2016). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded

Visiting Senior Associate Fellow, Oxford. (4/23/2016 - 6/18/2016). Private. Status: Funded. Pembroke COllege, Oxford (UK)

“Out of the Rubble–Rebuilding Berlin’s Cultural Landscape: A German Reckoning, 1946-1962”. General Research Fund, School of the Arts. $5888.00. (7/1/2014 - 8/15/2014). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded

Facing Genocide and Its Aftermath. Hall Center for Humanities. $2000.00. Submitted 3/1/2013 (8/23/2013 - 4/30/2014). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded. One-year seminar, co-director with Dr. Margaret Wickens Pearce, Geography. Awarded maximum of $2,000 for outside speakers

"Re-rooting" Berlin's Cultural Landscape: Theatre and Politics, 1945-1946. Office of International Programs International Travel Fund for Humanities Research. $3000.00. (8/31/2013). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded

A Theatre for the People and the GDR, 1946-1962. University of Kansas, Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies. $8000.00. (9/1/2011 - 5/27/2013). University (KU or KUMC). Status: Funded

Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD). (8/1/2004 - 12/31/2004). Foreign (company, govt, agencies, etc.). Status: Funded. Fellowship for research visits to the Stiftung Archiv Akademie der Künste (Academy of Arts), Berlin, Germany. Research topic: The Jewish Kulturbund Theatre.

Culture in Ghetto Settings, Europe, 1933-1945. Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC. (7/30/2001 - 8/10/2001). Foundation. Status: Funded. Principal Workshop Organizer, Summer Research Workshops for Scholars Program (two-week international workshop and symposium). (budget, $20,000+)

“Starred Representatives and Representation: Jewish Identity Onstage in Nazi Germany.”. American Council of Learned Societies. $20,000. (7/1/1997 - 5/31/1998). Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Funded

Research Grant. American Philosophical Society. (8/31/1996). Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Funded


I served as the Editor of the Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism for four years (2015-2018), and remain on the Advisory Board for the journal.

I review articles for international journals; and grant proposals for international fellowship organizations.