I came to film studies via a circuitous route that involved ‘traditional’ language and literature studies (where I was enthused by the relationship between text and image in 19th and 20th century literature and visual art) and an MPhil in Social and Political Theory (which allowed me to explore the interaction between culture, society and ideology). This combination of influences led to work on early Soviet cinema – and has continued to inflect my research and teaching. I began my PhD in Cambridge, but spent a large part of it as a Visiting Fellow in Harvard University, and then in Moscow. My first monograph, Visions of a New Land emerged out of this research, and sought to examine Soviet cinema as cultural geography.
In broad terms, I am interested in the relationship between the political avant-garde and mainstream cinema, before the Second World War, and their shared project of constructing models of spectatorship that would correspond to new ideals of subjectivity. How could cinema create new people? I teach widely on Russian and Soviet cinema (in its full historical range), and in the theory of cinema, with particular focus on film and the city/space, and film and the senses.
My current book project traces film’s part in the Soviet project for the ‘reeducation of the senses’. Recent publications emerging from this research include: ‘Socialist Senses: Film and the Creation of Soviet Subjectivity’, Slavic Review (2012); and ‘Making Sense without Speech: Silence in Early Soviet Sound Film’, in Sound, Speech, Music in Soviet and Post-Soviet Cinema (Kaganovsky and Salazkina eds, 2014).