Anne Eakin Moss Former Research Fellow

Anne Eakin Moss
January 2019


Anne Eakin Moss is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Comparative Thought and Literature (formerly The Humanities Center) at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where she teaches courses in Russian literature, cinema, film theory and feminist theory. She received her PhD in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Stanford University and has held postdoctoral positions at Harvard University and Johns Hopkins. Her book Only Among Women: Philosophies of Community in the Russian Imagination, 1860-1940 will be forthcoming from Northwestern University Press in 2019. An article from her second book project “The Permeable Screen: Stalinist Cinema and the Fantasy of No Limits” will appear in the journal Screen in Winter 2018. Among her recent publications is “A Woman with a Movie Camera: Chantal Akerman’s Essay Films” published in The Essay Film: Dialogue, Politics, Utopia, Caroline Eades and Elizabeth Papazian, eds. (Wallflower, 2016). Dr. Eakin Moss is also the Co-Editor of Modern Language Notes Comparative Literature Issue (Johns Hopkins University Press). Dated from 2019

Fields of research

Film and media theory, Russian cinema, the essay film, feminist and gender theory, philosophies of community

IKKM Research Project

The Permeable Screen: Communist and Capitalist Film Fantasies, 1927-1940

My project aims for a sustained investigation of the ontological regime manifested and created by Stalinist cinema in comparison with Western cinema in the 1930s. Broadly, my book project aims to show how media, and the cinema screen in particular, generates a relationship to the spectator that organizes and re-organizes their experience of the ordinary and the material world, both in its technological and biological aspects. While Soviet avant-garde cinema of the 1920s employed self-referential techniques of montage, disruption and attraction to shock and estrange the viewer, thereby to bring him or her to revolutionary consciousness, Socialist Realist films of the 1930s aimed to immerse their viewers in a vision of Soviet utopia, ensuring their sympathy and emotional investment. The very interface of the screen in Stalinist cinema establishes a profoundly different relationship between worlds than Hollywood cinema from the same era. Combining both close and aggregative examination of films from the Soviet Union from 1927-40, I show how direct address, gesture, metacinematic expression, special effects, framing, mirroring and other deictic operations establish a very different picture of operative ontology and the phenomenon of film as medium than the view so often composed from Western cinema alone. In turn I consider the implications of this comparative picture of operative ontologies in media to contemporary debates about expanded cinema, particularly 3-D cinema and virtual reality, but also issues of interface and digital imaging.

My research in Soviet cinema theory and stylistics during and after the transition to sound cinema strives to make a crucial intervention into the understanding of cinema as an experience and particularly the screen as its means of transmission, support, or constraint in the age of expanded cinema and new media. Today’s technological and stylistic move to immersive and ubiquitous cinematic experience, simultaneous with film theory’s turn away from narrative and semiotic readings of film, and towards focus on affect, the haptic, and the somatic effects of cinema, have led some critics to propose the advent of a “post-medium condition,” of which the permeable screen might be seen as symptomatic. If the cinema screen today has meaning at all, it serves less as a formal problem with which to engage like the fourth wall, and rarely as an index or register of light on celluloid film, but instead creates an environment, generating an atmosphere shared with the spectator, or an interface, offering a point of interaction. I argue that Stalinist cinema, in its production, sense-making and reception generated a mode of existence that opens new ways of thinking about media today.

Selected Publications

“The Permeable Screen: Stalinist Cinema and the Fantasy of No Limits,” forthcoming Screen 59/4 (Winter 2018).
“The Woman with a Movie Camera: The Essay Films of Chantal Akerman” in Elizabeth Papazian & Caroline Eades, eds., The Essay Film: Dialogue, Politics, Utopia (Wallflower Press 2016), 167-191.
“Stalin’s Harem: The Spectator’s Dilemma in 1930’s Soviet Film,” Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema Vol. 3, No. 2 (2009): 157-172.
“Tolstoy’s Politics of Love: ‘That passionate and tender friendship which exists only among women,’” Slavic and East European Journal Vol. 53, No. 4 (Winter 2009): 566-586.