Olga Gershenson is Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies and of Film Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Professor Gershenson earned her BA in Russia, her MA in Israel, and her PhD in the US. Her academic path is as diverse. A multi-disciplinary scholar, her interests lie at the intersection of culture, history, and film.
Her first book, Gesher: Russian Theater in Israel (2005), pioneered the study of Russian immigrant cultural production. A series of articles on Russian-Israeli cinema cemented her status as the premier expert in the field.
Professor Gershenson's book, The Phantom Holocaust (2013), reveals unknown Holocaust films from the Soviet Union. According to the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies, it "will serve as a foundation for all further research and reflection on the topic."
Her latest book, New Israeli Horror: Local Cinema, Global Genre will be published in 2023. This is the first book to tell the story of a new cycle of horror films that blossomed in Israel in 2010s. Through in-depth analysis, engaging storytelling, and interviews with the filmmakers, Gershenson explores their films from inception to reception.
Along with film, Professor Gershenson does innovative research on spaces, both sacred and otherwise. Her collection Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender (2009) established the discipline of Toilet Studies. Her special issue of Eastern European Jewish Affairs (which she co-edited with Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett) charts for the first time a map of new Jewish museums throughout post-communist Europe, examining the relationship between politics, history, and culture.
At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Professor Gershenson teaches courses on Israeli and Palestinian cinemas, on Holocaust films, on Jewish humor and popular culture. She is an editor of the “Teaching with Film and Media” column at AJS Perspectives. In addition to her home institution, she has taught internationally, including in Israel, China, India, Russia, and UAE.
Profiled in Haaretz as the rare academic who “prefers engaging the masses in culture,” she curates film series, consults for festivals, and has a lively lecture schedule at universities, conferences, and museums around the world.