Russian Scholar Gets Fulbright for Kazakh Film Studies

Story posted December 20, 2005

Years of scholarship have come full circle for Professor of Russian Jane Knox-Voina.

In 2002, Knox-Voina hosted the Central Asian film scholar Gulnara Abikeyeva at Bowdoin, where she was a resident Fulbright Scholar. Together, they taught a course examining Central Asian culture through the lens of film and literature.

Now, it is Knox-Voina who will be the Fulbright Scholar.

Jane Knox-Voina
Jane Knox-Voina is a leading authority on Kazakh cinema.

Knox-Voina recently received the prestigious 2005-2006 Fulbright Scholar Award to do research and lecture at the Kazakhstan Institute of the Arts - Abikeyeva's home institution.

"This is an incredible honor," said Knox-Voina, who has been on the Bowdoin faculty since 1976. "I hope to write a book on Kazakh film based on my research and teaching there. The new wave of 'Third World film,' which increasingly is in competition with Hollywood, is of great interest to scholars, yet little has been written about Kazakh film."

The Fulbright Program is America's flagship international educational exchange activity, with awards given to only 850 U.S. faculty and professionals annually. Awards are selected on the basis of academic achievement to those who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership potential in their fields. Among U.S. Fulbright Scholar alumni are Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate in Economics, and James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA.

Knox-Voina will be teaching the history of American cinema - with an emphasis on the Western. "There are many ways in which their Easterns compare to American Westerns," she noted. "Many of their films are about nomads who love open spaces, like the American cowboy - except that they ride camels as well as horses, and now and then a motorcycle. Also, some of their films deal with newer urban problems of gangsters and crime and mafia. And we, of course, have a long heritage of gangster films."

Knox-Voina will be in residence during the Spring 2006 semester at the Kazakhstan Institute of the Arts' Department of the History and Theory of Cinema and Television. The Institute is located in Almaty, the former capitol of Kazakhstan.

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