Associate 2019-20

Lilya Kaganovsky

Comparative & World Literature and Slavic Languages & Literatures

Kaganovsky image
Esfir Shub at flatbed with celluloid-strip (BFI)

The Visible and the Invisible: Soviet Cinema and Women’s Work

The Visible and the Invisible: A History of Soviet Women’s Cinema, 1920s-1980s tells a new history of Soviet cinema from the prospective of the women film pioneers who were instrumental to its development, but whose contributions have gone largely unnoticed. This study shifts the definition of “Soviet cinema” to include those who have been relegated to its margins. By focusing on a wide range of women’s cinematic production in the USSR and looking closely at the work of Soviet women directors, editors, composers, cinematographers, scriptwriters, and film critics, this project resituates the work of women within the Soviet cinema industry, providing a new historical and theoretical lens through which to understand their contributions.

Building on Professor Kaganovsky’s earlier work on masculinity and the body in Stalinist culture, and early Soviet film sound, this study focuses on gender and technology, by placing the work of women at the forefront of the history of Soviet cinema. This project is motivated in part by recent reexaminations of the history of women in the silent film industries, and in part by a lack of scholarly attention to Soviet women’s cinema by critics both inside and outside of Slavic studies. The Visible and the Invisible will significantly broaden our understanding of Soviet cinema, women’s cinema, and film history, while also serving as a model for new directions in feminist film studies.