Olga Solovieva

Director of Undergraduate Studies, Assistant Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature
Wieboldt 412
Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Film Studies, Yale University; M.A. in Modern German, Medieval German and Russian Literature, Freie Universität Berlin
Teaching at UChicago since 2011
Research Interests: Interdisciplinary and diachronic methodology of comparative literature; interdisciplinary rhetoric and narratology; literary and media theory; East West comparison

I work on developing interdisciplinary methodology in the study of literature and culture. The writers, artists, and intellectuals whose work we usually study within the constraints of university disciplines didn’t know or care about the boundaries of the academic departments. The major question of my research and teaching is how we ourselves may transgress academic boundaries in order to be able to grasp the full complexity of the cultural production that has so far shaped our history and consciousness.


Olga V. Solovieva’s work brings into dialogue texts and concepts from numerous disciplines, including literature, film, religious studies, art history, philosophy and law. She is interested in what can "be done with words": this leads her to focus on the history of rhetoric, performance, communication, interdisciplinary narratology, and media studies, particularly in their material and corporeal aspects. Her first book, Christ’s Subversive Body: Practices of Religious Rhetoric in Culture and Politics (Northwestern University Press, 2017), is dedicated to the diachronic and interdisciplinary methodology of comparison. It examines the rhetorical usages and the epistemological basis that the religious notion of Christ’s body has offered for alternative or subversive social and medial constructs at some critical junctures in the history of Western civilization. Her current book projects, The Russian Kurosawa and Thomas Mann’s Russia, examine the political, philosophical and mediating function of the reception of Russian literature in East and West. Before joining the faculty of Comparative Literature, she was a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Committee on Social Thought.



Work with students:

I help my students to develop innovative, cutting-edge comparative projects that involve different disciplines, languages and cultures. My students produce original work analyzing, for example, how musical and linguistic forms intersect in a 19th-c. opera, how literature incorporates and tests philosophical ideas, or how the translation of a Dutch painting into an American poem compares with English translations of Chinese poems.

Representative publications:

“Rebellion: A Note on Agamben’s Reception of Dostoevsky in The Open.Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée, 43.4 (2016): 520-530.

“Kurosawa Akira’s The Lower Depths: Beggar Cinema at the Disjuncture of Times.” Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, 5.1 & 2 (2013): 37-58. Reprinted in Chinese translation by Yan Peiwen in Zhongguo xueshu (China Scholarship), 12.1 (2015): 200-231.

“Fassbinder’s France: Genet’s Mise-en-Scène in Fassbinder’s Films.” A Companion to Rainer Werner Fassbinder, ed. Brigitte Peucker (New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), 333-351.

 “The Portrayal of a Murderer in Fritz Lang’s M: Toward an Effect of Three-Dimensionality in the Classical Cinema.” Quarterly Review of Film and Video, 29.1 (2012): 50-63.

“The Intellectual Embodied in his Medium, or the Cinematic Passion of Pier Paolo Pasolini.” Italian Culture, 29.1 (2011): 52-68.

“Kurosawa Akira’s The Idiot: Where the East Meets the West.” Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, 1.2 (2009): 129-142.



Destruction of Books, Images and Artifacts in Europe and South Asia (co-taught with Tyler Williams)

Thomas Mann, Joseph and his Brothers

Comparative Methods in the Humanities

The Novel-Essay and Its Past: From Artsybashev’s Sanin to Musil’s Man Without Qualities

Intercultural Adaptation: Kurosawa and his Russian Sources

The Films of Jean-Luc Godard

Modern Rewritings of the Gospel Narratives