Olga V. Solovieva

Assistant Professor in the Department of Slavonic Literatures and Research Fellow at the Center of Excellence—Interacting Minds, Societies, Environments at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland

Academic Bio

Solovieva’s research focuses on Russian-Japanese, Russian-German, and Russian-Belarusian-Ukrainian cultural relations, more specifically on the intersection of arts and politics through transnational encounters among these cultures.

Solovieva’s current project on the reception of Russian literature outside Russia has resulted in two monographs, The Russian Kurosawa: Transnational Cinema, or the Art of Speaking Differently (Oxford University Press, 2023) and Thomas Mann’s Russia: Stages of a Conversion (in progress). Through the examples of Akira Kurosawa’s cinema and Thomas Mann’s political and cultural essayism, this two-volume project investigates the reception and role of nineteenth-century Russian social thought and literature, specifically that of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, in East and West. The books show that the reception of nineteenth-century Russian literature was crucial to these artists’ political conversion from an alliance with militarism toward democratic and pacifist convictions. Solovieva also published about the place and role of Dostoevsky’s religious discourse in the European intellectual history of the 19th-century in her book chapter “Christ’s Vanishing Body in Dostoevsky’s Genealogy of Ethical Consciousness,” Christ’s Subversive Body: Practices of Religious Rhetoric in Culture and Politics (Northwestern University Press, 2018); and on the reception of Dostoevsky by Giorgio Agamben in “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.

Solovieva’s international conference about Japanese-Russian intellectual relations at the University of Chicago in May 2018 and resulting volume Japan’s Russia: Challenging the East-West Paradigm, co-edited with historian of modern Japan Sho Konishi, laid foundation for the emerging field of Russian-Japanese Studies in the Anglo-American academia. With scholar of Danish intellectual history William Banks (Illinois State University) and scholar of Literature and Human Rights Nory Peters (UChicago), Solovieva co-organized the 2023 ACLA Seminar on George Brandes and Human Rights. The seminar explored the relevance of Brandes’ engagement on behalf of “minor literatures” for the contemporary notion of human rights, and focused especially on Brandes' engagement on behalf of disenfranchised ethnicities in Eastern Europe.

Solovieva also collaborates with colleagues from Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Poland, and United States on a research project, entitled “Cultures of Protest in Contemporary Belarus, Ukraine and Russia,” launched at the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society and the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights at the University of Chicago. Parts of the project have been carried out at the Neubauer Collegium, Human Rights Center “Viasna” in Minsk, Democracy Study Center of the German-Polish-Ukrainian Society in Kyiv, and other locations. The goal of this project is to create a productive dialogue among Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian intellectuals and artists who share the values of democratic governance, human and civil rights, and freedom of artistic expression, as well as among scholars of the recent history and culture of these three countries. A brief account of this project “Ales Bialiatski, Together…” can be found on the B20 blog of boundary2. Establishing a dialogue among three East Slavic cultures is crucial to better understanding the complex interconnection of culture and politics in the region and forging the networks of scholars of good will toward solidarity and democratic freedoms.

In Chicago, Solovieva has been collaborating with the NGO Belarusians in Chicago on promotion and better understanding and appreciation of Belarusian culture. In Spring term of 2022 and 2023 she co-taught with Bożena Shallcross (Slavic Literatures and Languages) the Experimental Capstone course “Diasporic Narratives and Memories: Designing a New Concept for a Multi-Ethnic Museum of Belarusian Emigration,” co-sponsored by the Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, the Big Problems Curriculum of the Franke Institute for the Humanities, and Chicago Studies Program. In the course, the students conducted oral interviews with the members of Belarusian diaspora, studied the diaporic museums of Chicago, and conducted research on the material culture of the Belarusian community. The first digital outline  of the museum, submitted to the Belarusian community for a feedback, can be found here. Solovieva’s students also curated the photo exhibit “Belarus—Faces of Resistance” at the South Space Gallery Hyde Park, featuring the work of nine artists who documented the Belarusian pro-democracy protests in 2020.

For the full list of publications, see Solovieva’s academic profile.