Biographies of Conference Speakers

   Joel Berkowitz

Joel Berkowitz is the Corob Fellow in Yiddish at Oxford University.  During the 1999-2000 academic year he is also serving as Professor Bernard F. Choseed Fellow at YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, where he has begun work on a book-length study of Yiddish playwright and composer Avrom Goldfaden.  After receiving his Ph.D. from the City University of New York Graduate Center, Berkowitz was a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow in Jerusalem and worked for the Workmen's Circle in New York before taking up his post at Oxford.  He has published articles and book reviews on Yiddish, European and American theater, and translated several Yiddish dramas for the stage.

   Hannah Berliner Fischthal

Hannah Berliner Fischthal is Associate Professor of English at New College, Hofstra University, where she teaches Yiddish    Literature and Jewish-American Literature.  She is currently co-Book Review Editor of Studies in American Jewish Literature.  Her doctoral dissertation, completed at City University of New York, discussed Sholem Asch's reputation.  She has also published numerous articles and delivered many papers about Asch.  Currently, she is completing a book on the works of Asch.

   Harley Erdman

Harley Erdman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Theater at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  His book Staging the Jew: The Performance of an American Ethnicity, 1860-1920 was published in 1997 by Rutgers University Press. His article "Jewish Anxiety in 'Days of Judgement," about God of Vengeance, appeared in the May 1999 edition of Theater Survey.  He currently serves as Editor of Theater Topics.

   Itzik Nakhmen Gottesman

Itzik Gottesman is an Assistant Professor of Yiddish Language and Culture in the Germanic Studies Department of the University of Texas at Austin and has taught Yiddish language, Yiddish Drama and Film, and Jewish Folklore.  His main interest is Yiddish foklore, particularly Yiddish folk literature, folksong and folk custom. His book, Defining the Yiddish Nation: The Jewish Folklorists of Poland will be published by Wayne State University Press this summer.  In 1997-98, he spent the year conducting research on Yiddish folk parody in Jerusalam as a Yad-Hanadiv/Beracha Fellow.  He recently founded the recording label Yiddishland Records to produce field recordings of Yiddish folksingers

   Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman is a doctoral candidate in the joint program in Jewish Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley.  He is completing a dissertation on the uses of Jesus figures and Christian symbolism in Yiddish literature and Jewish visual art in the first half of the twentieth century, entitled, "Reclaiming Jesus and the Construction of a Modern Jewish Culture."  His background is in the cultural history of the Jews of Europe (especially Eastern Europe) in the modern period.

   Ellen Kellman

Ellen Kellman is a lecturer in Yiddish language and literature at Brandeis University.  Before joining the Brandeis faculty, she taught at the University of Toronto, Columbia University and the University of Michigan.  Kellman holds a M.A. in linguistics from the University of Michigan, and an M.A. and M.Phil. in Yiddish Studies from Columbia University.  She is completing her Ph.D. dissertation, entitled, "The Newspaper Novel in the Jewish Daily Forward (1900-1940): Fiction as Entertainment and Serious Literature," at Columbia University.  A major chapter in her dissertation treats three novels of Sholem Asch that were first published in the Yiddish newspaper Forverts: Motke Ganev, Onkel Mozes and AfKidush haShem.

   Mikhail Krutikov

Mikhail Krutikov studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he received his Ph.D.  He is a lecturer in Modern Yiddish Literature at the Oxford Institute for Yiddish Studies and also a lecturer in Yiddish Literature at School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.  He is co-editor of the collection of papers Yiddish in the Contemporary World (Oxford: Legenda, 1999).  Krutikov's book on Yiddish fiction between 1905 and 1914 is forthcoming from Stanford University Press.

   David Mazower

David Mazower is the great-grandson of Sholem Asch and describes himself as "the unofficial Asch family historian."  A senior journalist with BBC World Service Radio, he is also a keen Yiddishist and a regular writer and lecturer on Jewish history.  In 1987 he created the first ever exhibition on the history of Yiddish theater in London, and is currently working on a full-length study of the subject.  He has also written widely on the culture and politics of the Jewish East End, and is Deputy Editor of the new academic journal, Jewish Culture and History.

   Anita Norich

Anita Norich is Associate Professor of English and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan.  She is the author of  The Homeless Imagination in the Fiction of Israel Joshua Singer (Indiana University Press, 1991) and co-editor of  Gender and Text in Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literatures (Harvard and JTS, 1992).   She teaches, lectures, and publishes on a range of topics concerning Yiddish language and literature, modern Jewish culture, Jewish American literature, and Holocaust literature.

   Avraham Novershtern

Avraham Novershtern received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  He currently serves as Senior Lecturer in the Yiddish Department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and as director of Beth Shalom Aleichem (Tel Aviv).  In the years 1986-1998 he also served yearly as Visiting Professor at the Uriel Weinreich Summer Program in Yiddish Language, Literature and Culture, sponsored by Columbia University and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (New York). He served as Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan, Columbia University, and Tel Aviv University.  Novershtern has published articles and monographs about the central figures in Yiddish Literature of the twentieth century. He is also the co-editor of Yivo-bleter, the central scholarly journal in Yiddish.

   David G. Roskies

David Roskies is professor of Jewish literature at the Jewish Theological Seminary.  He is the author of A Bridge of Longing: The Lost Art of Yiddish Storytelling, The Jewish Search for a Usable Past, and The Literature of Destruction, a companion volume to Against the Apocalypse.  Roskies is co-editor of Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History.

   Naomi Seidman


Naomi Seidman is Associate Professor of Jewish Culture and Director of the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.  Her book, A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish, appeared in 1997.  Her article "The Ghosts of Queer Loves Past: Ansky's `Dybbuk' and the Sexual Transformation of Ashkenaz" is forthcoming in Queer Theory and the Jewish Question (Columbia University Press).

   Alisa Solomon

Alisa Solomon is a Professor of English at Baruch College--City University of New York and of English and Theater at the CUNY Graduate Center.  She is currently serving as the executive director of CUNY's Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies. Her book, Re-Dressing the Canon: Essays on Theater and Gender (Routledge), won last year's George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism.   Solomon also writes theater criticism and political features regularly for the Village Voice, where she is a Staff Writer, and for other publications. She holds a doctorate in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Literature and Criticism from Yale University.

   Rebecca Taichman

Rebecca Taichman directed the Obie award winning solo show Menopausal Gentleman, starring Peggy Shaw of The Split Britches Company.  Menopausal Gentleman has been touring in the US and internationally to great acclaim.  Taichman was also assistant director of the Tony Award-winning production Barrymore. She has worked at The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center as a director, assistant director, actress, and archivist.  Currently, Taichman is studying directing at the Yale Drama School where she has directed Taming of the Shrew, Sunil Kuruvilla's Fighting Words, and Colleen Pickett's Portraits.  She will graduate from the Drama School this spring.  Taichman has been developing The People vs. The God of Vengeance since 1997 as director and writer.  A first version of the play premiered at Yale Drama School and at the Boston Center for the Arts/Theater Offensive.

   Nina Warnke


Nina Warnke teaches Yiddish language and literature at Indiana University.  She has published articles on American Yiddish theater in YIVO Annual and Theatre Journal.  She is currently completing her Ph.D. dissertation, entitled, "Reforming the New York Yiddish Theater: The Cultural Politics of Immigrant Intellectuals and the Yiddish Press, 1888-1910."

   Seth Wolitz
Seth Wolitz is the Gale Chair of Jewish Studies and professor of French, Slavic and Comparative Literature at the University of Texas, Austin.  He has been chair of Jewish Studies there for many years.  He received his B.A. at the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. at Yale University.  He is a specialist in twentieth-century Jewish and European literature and has also published on medieval Provencal literature and contemporary Brazilian poetry.  His major work for the past twenty years has been the recovery and appreciation of modern Yiddish literature in its European context.  He has published widely on the modernist movement in Yiddish.  He has written the lead articles for the two major exhibition catalogs of modern Jewish art in Jerusalem and New York.  His latest publication (1999) is a long article on Texas Jews and their cultural uniqueness.  He is working on a study of Yiddish dramatist and composer Avrom Goldfaden and completing work on modernist Yiddish poetry.

Return to Asch conference homepage

Yale University Library, Judaica Collection
Sholem Asch Conference
Updated: April 17, 2000