Department of Comparative Literature
1050 E. 59th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
Professor Solovieva works on Russian-Japanese cultural relations. Her book, The Russian Kurosawa: Transnational Cinema, or the Art of Speaking Differently (Oxford University Press, 2023) offers a new historical and thematic perspective on the work of the renowned Japanese director Akira Kurosawa through a detailed discussion of the films he made on the basis of Russian sources. The book shows that Kurosawa’s Russian output deals with the most politically sensitive topics of postwar Japan. But the philosophical, ethical, and political threads that interconnect Kurosawa’s Russian films can be easily followed to all his other productions where they are interwoven with the fabric of Japanese intellectual history in which Russian culture once played a significant role. The book unveils how Kurosawa’s cinema emerges from the intellectual tradition of the Russian-inflected anarchist dissent of prewar Japan and updates this tradition as a program for postwar reconstruction. Taking into account the Russian (and Russian-Japanese) democratic roots of Kurosawa’s ideological persuasion, The Russian Kurosawa sidesteps the unproductive debate as to whether Kurosawa is the most Japanese or “the most Western” of directors. The book challenges the prevalent views of Akira Kurosawa as an apolitical art house director or a conformist studio filmmaker by offering a much more complicated picture of the director’s participation in post-war cultural and political debates. Professor Solovieva’s articles on Kurosawa's Russian films have also appeared in The Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema and were reprinted in Chinese in Zhongguo xueshu (China Scholarship).
Professor Solovieva’s interest in Russian-Japanese intellectual relations resulted in an international conference (May 2018) and a volume Japan’s Russia: Challenging the East-West Paradigm, co-edited with historian of modern Japan Sho Konishi (Cambria Press, 2021). She also wrote on Russian and Japanese nuclear experience in “Chernobyl, the Unheard Prayer: Svetlana Aleksievich and the Little Voices of Fukushima,” boundary 2, 45:4 (2018): 223-241; and most recently, in a book chapter “Horror Old and New: Nakata Hideo’s Ringu (1998) between J-Horror and Hibakusha Cinema” for A Companion to Japanese Cinema, ed. David Desser (New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2022), 382-400. Olga V. Solovieva teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on Russian-Japanese intellectual relations, for example, “Kurosawa and his Russian Sources,” and “Russian Anarchists, Revolutionary Samurai: Introduction to Russian-Japanese Intellectual Relations.” For more information, please visit her faculty page.