Maria Belodubrovskaya

Maria Belodubrovskaya's picture
  • Associate Professor
  • Film
Office Hours:
  • Thursday 1:15 to 3:15 PM
Expertise and Activities: 

My research interests include film history, film stylistics, Russian/Soviet cinema, Soviet intellectual history and visual culture, theories of film and ideology, mass art, genre and narrative theory, industry history, production cultures, and cognitive approaches to film spectatorship. My first book, Not According to Plan: Filmmaking under Stalin (Cornell UP, 2017) is a history of Soviet filmmaking during the Stalin era (1930-1953), which focuses in particular on the relationship between the state and the film 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 five institutions of Soviet cinema--policymakers, production planners, directors, screenwriters, and censors--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.


  • Ph.D. Film, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2011


  • Russian Film Symposium, University of Pittsburgh, 2016
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard, 2011–2012
  • CCCT Summer School led by Ed S. Tan, “Reading Mediated Minds," University of Amsterdam, 2011
  • Mellon/ACLS Early Career Dissertation Fellowship, 2010–2011
  • Best-Paper Award, Premio Friuladria Collegium, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, 2008


  • 2018. "The Cine-Fist: Eisenstein’s Attractions, Mirror Neurons, and Contemporary Action Cinema." Projections, 12:1 (Summer): 1–18 .
  • 2017. "Plotlessness: Soviet Cinema, Socialist Realism, and Non-Classical Storytelling." Film History, 29:3 (Fall): 169–192 .
  • 2015. "Abram Room, A STRICT YOUNG MAN, and the 1936 Campaign Against Formalism in Soviet Cinema." Slavic Review, 74:2 (Summer): 311–333 .
  • 2014. "Soviet Hollywood: The Culture Industry That Wasn’t." Cinema Journal, 53:3 (Spring): 100–122 .
  • 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 .
  • 2009. "Understanding the Magic: Special Effects in Ladislas Starewitch's L'HORLOGE MAGIQUE." KinoKultura, 23 , .
  • 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 .


  • 2017. Not According to Plan: Filmmaking under Stalin. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press .


  • 2016. "The Literary Scenario and the Soviet Screenwriting Tradition." A Companion to Russian Cinema , ed. Birgit Beumers Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons , 251–269 .
  • 2014. "Amphibian Man." Directory of World Cinema: Russia, vol. 2 , ed. Birgit Beumers Bristol: Intellect , 134–135 .



  • CA 350 Introduction to Film
  • CA 400 The Films of Alfred Hitchcock
  • CA 454 Critical Film Analysis
  • CA 456 Russian and Soviet Film