Ana Hedberg Olenina

ACLS Fellow and Visting Scholar at Arizona State University

When did you first develop an interest in Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies?

I grew up in a home where literature was admired and constantly talked about. Seeing my parents staying up late to read rare samizdat novels, due to be returned the next day, filled me with curiosity and reverence. By age seventeen, I was an aficionado of the Russian Silver Age and I also admired the Symbolist art of my native Lithuania – the poetry of Jurgis Baltrušaitis and paintings of Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis. During my M.Phil. program at Cambridge University, I became fascinated with the Moscow Conceptualists and Russian responses to Continental Philosophy. My passion for the Russian fin-de-siècle and avant-garde culture resurfaced during my PhD program at Harvard University.

How have your interests changed since then?

I came into Slavic Studies as a literary historian and theorist, but eventually found myself at an interdisciplinary juncture between literature, media studies, and the history of psychology. 

What is your current research/work project?Olenina Research Image

I am working on a book, entitled Psychomotor Aesthetics: Perspectives on Expressive Movement and Affect in Russian and American Modernity, 1910s-1920s. This study traces the ways in which early film directors, writers, and performance theorists used the psychological ideas of their time to conceptualize expressive movement and transference of emotion.

What do you value about your ASEEES membership?

Being a part of a vibrant professional network is crucial for being abreast of all major developments in our field.

Besides your professional work, what other interests and/or hobbies do you enjoy?

Watercolor painting, drawing, photography, dance, and traveling with my family.