- Assistant Professor
- 6050 Vilas Hall
- Thursday 2:00–4:00 PM
My research interests include film history, film stylistics, industry history, Russian/Soviet cinema, theories of film and ideology, film and propaganda, mass art, genre theory, screenwriting studies, silent film performance, and cognitive approaches to film spectatorship.
My book project, "Not According to Plan: Filmmaking under Stalin and the Failures of Mass Cinema," is a historical investigation of the Soviet film industry under Stalin (1930-1953), focusing in particular on the relationship between the state and the filmmaking community. The goal of the Stalinist state was to use Soviet cinema as its "mighty weapon of mass propaganda." Yet during the Stalin years, Soviet cinema saw its output plummet, its filmmakers underemployed, and up to a third of its new films banned. All attempts by the state to boost film output failed to produce results, and the Soviet leadership was forced to compromise on a small number of propagandistically deficient films, those that Soviet filmmakers could successfully deliver. This study examines four institutions of Soviet cinema--production practices, thematic planning, screenwriting, and censorship--to show that the Soviet state failed to secure satisfactory film production because its efforts were undermined by preexisting filmmaking practices and allegiances, which strongly favored filmmaker autonomy and stylistic modernism. It argues that it was impossible to build a mass propaganda cinema while working with artisanal production methods, weak control mechanisms, and an entitled artistic workforce. This argument challenges two received notions about this cinema--its propaganda success and its artistic failure--and argues that ideological control collapses in environments where professionalism and artistry are rewarded.
- Postdoctoral Fellowship, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University , 2011
- Mellon/ACLS Early Career Dissertation Fellowship , 2010
- Best-Paper Award , Premio Friuladria Collegium, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto , 2008
- 2015. "Abram Room, A STRICT YOUNG MAN, and the 1936 Campaign Against Formalism in Soviet Cinema." Slavic Review , forthcoming (Summer) .
- 2014. "Soviet Hollywood: The Culture Industry That Wasn’t." Cinema Journal , 53:3 (Spring): 100–122 , https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/17769553/Hollywood.pdf .
- 2011. "The Jockey and the Horse: Joseph Stalin and the Biopic Genre in Soviet Cinema." Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema , 5:1 (April): 29–53 , https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/17769553/Biopic.pdf .
- 2009. "Understanding the Magic: Special Effects in Ladislas Starewitch's L'HORLOGE MAGIQUE." KinoKultura , 23 (revised) , https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/17769553/Starewitch.pdf .
- 2006. "Ekstsentrika stilia v kinokartine A. Rooma STROGII IUNOSHA [Eccentrism of Style in Abram Room's A STRICT YOUNG MAN]." Tynianovskii sbornik , 12: 318–338 .
- 2015. "The Literary Scenario and the Soviet Screenwriting Tradition." A Companion to Russian Cinema , Birgit Beumers Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons , forthcoming .
- Translation of Viktor Shklovsky's "Monument to a Scientific Error" [Pamiatnik nauchnoi oshibke] (1930). http://www.davidbordwell.net/essays/shklovsky.php. .
- Interview with Aleksei German (in Russian, St. Petersburg, 2002). https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/17769553/German.pdf. .
- CA 350 Introduction to Film
- CA 454 Critical Film Analysis
- CA 456 Russian and Soviet Film
- CA 613 The Films of Alfred Hitchcock