Edna Nahshon is professor of Hebrew at The Jewish Theological Seminary. She served as chair of the Hebrew Department from 1990 to 1998.
Dr. Nahshon's specialty is Jewish theater and performance. Her books include Yiddish Proletarian Theatre: The Art and Politics of the Artef, 1925–1940 (Greenwood, 1998) and From the Ghetto to the Melting Pot: Israel Zangwill's Jewish Plays (Wayne State University Press, 2006). Dr. Nahshon is the editor of a collection of essays titled Jewish Theatre (forthcoming, Brill Academic Publishers), and the author of the book Jews and Shoes (Berg Publishers, 2008). From the Ghetto to the Melting Pot was recently honored by the Jordan Schnitzer Book Award Committee of the Association for Jewish Studies as a 2009 Notable Selection in the category of Jews and the Arts.
Jews and Shoes has received numerous write-ups in such publications as Book Forum and Haaretz. Dr. Nahshon's work was also cited in this article about a large donation of shoes to a nonprofit agency. She is also working with Professor Michael Shapiro (University of Illinois) on a book tentatively titled Countering Shylock, in which they examine Jewish responses to the Merchant of Venice.
Dr. Nahshon's work has been published in numerous outlets, in both Hebrew and English. Her essay "Counter-text on the Yiddish Stage: Maurice Schwartz's Production of Shylock and His Daughter (1947)" appeared in the summer 2007 issue of Zmanim, a Hebrew-language periodical published by Tel Aviv University, the Open University, and Mercaz Zalman Shazar. Another recent publication is her essay "Yiddish Theater in America" in Jews and American Popular Culture (ed. Paul Buhle, Praeger, 2007); an essay on Yiddish theater in the Encyclopedia of American Jewish History (eds. Stephen H. Norwood and Eunice G. Pollack, ABC-CLIO, 2007); and an introductory essay to Israel Zangwill's Big Bow Mystery. Dr. Nahshon was guest editor of a special issue of American Jewish History devoted to the theme of "Jews and Performance" (summer 2004). The issue includes her own article "The Pulpit and the Stage: Rabbi Joseph Silverman and the Actors' Church Alliance."
Other articles include: "Hebrew, Jewish, Russian: Habima's Production of 'The Dybbuk,'" which appeared in August 2004 in Jews in Russia and Eastern Europe; the main entry on Yiddish theater, as well as nearly all the individual entries on Yiddish and Hebrew theater in the landmark Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance (Oxford University Press, 2003); an article "From Geopathology to Redemption: A Flag Is Born on the Broadway Stage," which had originally appeared in The Jewish Quarterly (London, 2000), was republished in the Kurt Weill Newsletter in fall 2002; individual and main entries for the American National Biography; the Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East; Jewish American History and Culture; and chapters in the books The Politics of Yiddish (1998); Yiddish Language and Culture Then and Now (1998); Jewish Studies in a New Europe (1998); and Di Froyen: Women and Yiddish (1997). Dr. Nahshon's Hebrew work has appeared in the United States in Ha'Doar and in Israel in Bamah and Qesher. She has also written for the popular press, notably Ha'aretz (in Hebrew) and the Forward (in English).
Dr. Nahshon served as the historical adviser to the television project "The Life and Death of the Federal Theatre," which aired in October 2003 on PBS, and she is a member of the editorial board of All About Jewish Theater, a multilingual electronic database for the preservation, deployment, and circulation of the heritage of Jewish theater worldwide. She is a member of NYU's Center for Religion and Media's working group titled Jews, Media and Religion, and has recently developed its unit on Jewish theater, with a special section on "The Dybbuk." She is coconvener, with Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (Performance Studies, NYU), of a faculty seminar on Jews and Performance, held four times a year at the JTS campus. In 2006 the seminar cosponsored a special symposium of artists and scholars on "The Dybbuk." In February 2009, Dr. Nahshon organized the three-day conference "Jews/Theatre/Performance in an Intercultural World" at JTS. Read an article from jewish-theater.com on this groundbreaking conference.
Dr. Nahshon has regularly organized panels and delivered papers at conferences and congresses organized by the Association for Jewish Studies, the World Congress of Jewish Studies, the European Association of Jewish Studies, and the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association and the International Federation of Theatre Research. In 2005–2006 and 2006–2007, she presented papers in two conferences organized by the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. The first paper, "Discord on the Great White Way: Jews, Show-Biz and the 'Freiburg Passion Play,’” was given at a conference titled 1929: Mapping the Jewish World (2005).
The second paper, "Between Heroism and Assimilation: Overwriting Shakespeare's Jessica in the Yiddish Art Theatre Postwar Production of 'Shylock and his Daughter' " was presented at the conference on Jewish Women in Postwar America (2007). In 2006, Dr. Nahshon presented a paper on Maurice Schwartz in a conference on the Geography of Modern Yiddish Culture at Haifa University. In addition, she presented papers at the annual meetings of the Association for Jewish Studies, the Congress for Jewish Studies, and other special conferences. Dr. Nahshon enjoys participating in talk-back programs connected with theatrical productions. In 2007, she gave a talk at the Metropolitan Playhouse in New York following a production of The Melting Pot and at Theater for a New Audience following its production of Oliver Twist.
Dr. Nahshon has received grants and fellowships from YIVO, the Memorial Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Littauer Foundation, and the Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Oxford University, where she is senior fellow.
Dr. Nahshon studied at Tel Aviv University and Columbia University. She holds a PhD in Performance Studies from New York University.