Elena I. Monastireva-Ansdell

Assistant Professor of Russian

Office: Lovejoy 447 [ campus map ]
Box 4400

Phone: 207-859-4451
Fax: 207-859-4405
Mailing Address:
4400 Mayflower Hill
Waterville, Maine 04901-8844
Monastireva-Ansdell, Elena I.


Piatigorsk Linguistic University, University of Iowa, Indiana University Bloomington

Areas of Expertise

  • Literature, cinema, and culture of twentieth- and twenty-first century Russia
  • Central Asian and East European cinema
  • Media constructions of gender, ethnicity, and nationality
  • Soviet national mythology in Stalinist, Thaw, and Putin-era cinema
  • Post-socialist and postcolonial studies

Courses Currently Teaching

CourseCourse Title
RU126 AElementary Russian II
RU127 AIntermediate Russian I
RU128 AIntermediate Russian II
RU135 AConversation Group
RU135 BConversation Group
RU242 AMake Russia Great Again: Post-Communist Cinema (in English)
RU326 AConversation and Composition: Personal ID in 20th-Century Literature
RU335 AConversation Group
RU427 APersonal Identity in 20th-Century Russian Literature

Other Courses Taught

CourseCourse Title
RU242Russian Cinema from Lenin to Putin
RU242Celluloid Ethnicities: How the USSR was (De)constructed
RU297Destiny and Chance: The Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski
RU232Engineering Human Souls: Stalinist Culture and Russian Society
RU120Russia in Film and Myth

Current Research

Elena hails from an ethnically and culturally diverse region of southern Russia, the beautiful Adyghei Republic in the Caucasus Mountains. Her scholarly interests are closely connected to the Caucasus, past and present, including Tsarist-era imperial ambitions, Soviet colonialism, and post-Soviet interethnic relations and conflict. The site of Russian imperial conquest (1817-64), the region figures famously in literary works by Pushkin, Lermontov and Tolstoy who created an enduring mythology of the “Good Russian Prisoner” peacefully interacting with the “savage” mountain tribes who hold him captive. Elena investigates how this canonical narrative that both naturalizes the Russian presence in the Caucasus and explains the empire’s relations with its non-Russian subjects, has since been used to justify or question post-Soviet Russia’s political and cultural ambitions vis-à-vis her ethnic Others. Beyond Russia, Elena explores the ways in which post-Soviet Central Asian states restructure their relations with the former metropole and negotiate their hybrid post-socialist and postcolonial identities that span Soviet modernity, traditional ethnic customs, pre-Islamic spiritual beliefs, customary and fundamentalist Islam, Soviet-instilled secularism, nomadic pastoralism, and urbanization.


"Postcolonial Ecologies in Soviet and post-Soviet Cinema." In progress.

"Electricity Within: Islam, pre-Islamic traditions, and Secular Forms of Belief in Contemporary Kyrgyz Cinema."
Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema, Volume 15, 2021, Issue 2, pp. 153-173

“First/Last Teacher: Recasting Soviet Legacies in Contemporary Kyrgyz Cinema.”
The Russian Review, 79 (July 2020)

“Renegotiating the ‘Communal Apartment’: Migration and Identity in Soviet and Contemporary Eurasian Cinema.”
Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema, Volume 11, Issue 3, 2017

“Re/framing the ‘Good Russian Prisoner’: Challenges of Postcolonial Reassessment in Aleksandr Rogozhkin’s Checkpoint.”
The Russian Review, 76 (January 2017)

“His Majesty’s Aide (1969).”
Birgit Beumers, ed. Directory of World Cinema: Russia 2. Bristol, UK: Intellect, 2015

“Trapped in the Prisoner Scenario: The First Chechen War and Sergei Bodrov’s Prisoner of the Mountains.”
Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema, Volume 8, Issue 2, 2014

“Soviet Structuring Myths in The Commissar.”
Rimgaila Salys, ed. The Russian Cinema Reader: Volume II, The Thaw to the Present. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2013.

“Redressing the Commissar: Thaw Cinema Revisits Soviet Structuring Myths.”
Lawrence Baron, ed. Modern Jewish Experiences in World Cinema, Brandeis University Press, 2011

“Redressing the Commissar: Thaw Cinema Revises Soviet Structuring Myths.”
The Russian Review, Volume 65/ Number 2 (April 2006)


“Women without Men: Labor Migration and Uzbek Society in Umid Khamdamov’s Hot bread (2019).” KinoKultura: A Journal of New Russian Cinema, Issue 70 (September), 2020. Http://www.kinokultura.com/2020/70r-issiq-non.shtml

“A Keeper of Light: Ermek Tursunov’s The Projectionist (2018) Spreads the Gospel of Cinema in Post-World War Two Kazakhstan.” KinoKultura: A Journal of New Russian Cinema, Issue 65 (July), 2019. Http://www.kinokultura.com/2019/65r-kinomekhanik.shtml

“Between the Feminist and the Harem: Patriotism, Empire, and Masculinity in Alena Zvantsova’s The Norseman (2015).” KinoKultura, Issue 61, 2018.

“Falling and Burning and Flying Again: Alena Davydova’s Ivan (2016).”
KinoKultura, Issue 56, 2017. Http://www.kinokultura.com/2017/56r-ivan.shtml

“A Daughter Worth Ten Sons: Kurmanjan Datka (2014) Models Leadership and National Identity for Contemporary Kyrgyzstan.”
KinoKultura, 49, 2015. Http://www.kinokultura.com/2015/49r-kurmanjan-datka.shtml

“Big Dreams and Big Love: Russia and Her Migrants in Larisa Sadilova’s She/Ona (2012).” KinoKultura, Issue 44, 2014. Http://www.kinokultura.com/2014/44r-ona.shtml

“Love Thy Viewer: Aleksandr Gordon’s Brothel Lights (2011), a film for a ‘broad yet deep audience’.” KinoKultura, Issue 37, 2012. Http://www.kinokultura.com/2012/37r-ognipritona.shtml

“Life for the Land: Yurii Feting’s Bibinur and the Genre of the Parable.”
KinoKultura, Issue 31, 2011. Http://www.kinokultura.com/2011/31r-bibinur.shtml

“Holy Fools, Nuns and Witches: Gender and Spirituality in Vera Storozheva’s Spring Is Almost Here.” KinoKultura, Issue 27, 2010. Http://www.kinokultura.com/2010/27r-skorovesna.shtml

“This Is No Mirage, This Is a War”: Degeneration of the Soviet ‘Eastern’ Tradition in Keosaian’s Mirage.” KinoKultura, Issue 24, 2009. Http://www.kinokultura.com/2009/24r-mirage.shtml

“One Size Does Not Fit All: Trains, Fashions, Mammals, and the Meaning of Life in Vera Storozheva’s Film Traveling with Pets.” KinoKultura, January 2008. Http://www.kinokultura.com/2008/19r-puteshestvie.shtml

“Lenin, Lovers, and Excess: Stalinist Past, Thaw Story, and Putin’s Russia in Andrei Eshpai’s Ellipsis.” KinoKultura, July 2007. Http://www.kinokultura.com/2007/17r-mnogotochie.shtml

“Staying Alive in the Age of Blockbusters: War, Youth, Popular Culture, and Moral Survival in Aleksandr Veledinsky’s Film.” KinoKultura, January 2007. Http://www.kinokultura.com/2007/15r-alive.shtml

“Where Motherland Begins: Andrei Kravchuk’s The Italian (2005).”
KinoKultura, January 2006. Http://www.kinokultura.com/2006/11r-italian.shtml

“Karen Shakhnazarov’s A Rider Named Death (2004).” KinoKultura, April 2005. Http://www.kinokultura.com/reviews/R4-05vsadnik.html

“Andrei Proshkin’s The Play of Butterflies (2004).” KinoKultura, October 2004. Http://www.kinokultura.com/reviews/R104motylki.html


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