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Jenny  Kaminer

about me


I am an interdisciplinary scholar of Russian culture whose publications have encompassed a broad range of historical epochs—from the nineteenth century to the present—as well as genres and media, including drama, prose, film, and television.

I established my reputation within Slavic Studies as a specialist in gender and Russian culture, the representation of maternity in particular. My first book, Women with a Thirst for Destruction: The Bad Mother in Russian Culture (Northwestern UP, 2014), received the Heldt Prize for Best Book in Slavic/East European Gender Studies.

For the past seven years, my research has primarily focused on Russian culture since 1991, exploring the profound transformations of post-Soviet society through a multidisciplinary prism. As in my earlier work on motherhood and Russian culture across several centuries, I employ a cultural-historical approach that allows the exploration of the central question recurring throughout my scholarship: How do dominant cultural myths mutate—or remain constant—during periods of pronounced societal change?

My latest book, Haunted Dreams: Fantasies of Adolescence in Post-Soviet Culture (Cornell University Press, 2022). Haunted Dreams is the first comprehensive study in English devoted to cultural representations of adolescence in Russia since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991. It is also the first book-length study to situate these post-Soviet cultural representations within the broader context of European and Anglo-American scholarship on adolescence and youth. Through close analysis of prose, drama, television, and film, this book maps how the adolescent hero has become a locus for multiple anxieties and a background for the projection of fervent hopes throughout the tumultuous years since the end of the Soviet experiment. It received the 2023 Best Book Prize from the International Research Society for Children's Literature.

I am currently Chair of the Department of German and Russian and Faculty Advisor for the Arts and Humanities, College of Letters and Science, at the University of California Davis. 

about me



  • Haunted Dreams: Fantasies of Adolescence in Post-Soviet Culture (Cornell University Press, 2022).

  • Women with a Thirst for Destruction: The Bad Mother in Russian Culture (Northwestern University Press, 2014).

Edited Volumes:

  • Screening Russian Youth, Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema 17 (2023). 


  • "'One Foot in the Grave’: Pregnancy and Folk Culture in Recent Russian Films,” Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema 16 (2022) [Honorable mention, 2023 Heldt Prize for Best Article in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Women’s and Gender studies].

  • “The Ghost of Adolescence Past: Teen Female Martyrs in Svetlana Vasilenko’s Little Fool and Anna Melikian’s Mermaid,” Slavic and East European Journal 63 (2019), 52–73.

  • “Imagining Adolescence in Selected Works of New Russian Drama,” Modern Language Review 113 (2018), 194–220.

  • “Vasilii Sigarev’s Post-Soviet Dramas of the Provincial Grotesque,” The Russian Review 75 (2016), 477–97.

  • “A Mother’s Land: Arina Petrovna Golovlyova and the Economic Restructuring of the Golovlyov Family,” Slavic and East European Journal 53.4 (2009), 545–65.

  • “Theatrical Motifs and the Drama of Everyday Life in the 1920s Stories of Mikhail Zoshchenko,” The Russian Review 65 (2006), 470–90.

Book Chapters:

  • “The Woman Question,” in Chekhov in Context, ed. Yuri Corrigan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), forthcoming, 2023.

  • “Madonna on the Field of Battle: Searching for Mary in Isaac Babel’s Red Cavalry,” in American Contributions to the 16th International Congress of Slavists, Belgrade, August 2018, volume 2: literature, ed. Judith Deutsch Kornblatt (Bloomington, IN: Slavica, 2018), 121–29.

  • “Mothers of a New World: Maternity and Culture during the Soviet Period,” in Gender in Twentieth-century Eastern Europe and the USSR, ed. Catherine Baker  (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 81–95.

  • Editor/academic advisor for “Mikhail Saltykov (1826–1889),” in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism, vol. 322, ed. Lawrence J. Trudeau (Detroit: Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016), 225–324.

  • “The Burden of Superfluity: Reconsidering Female Heroism in Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull,” in The Twilight of Realism: Russian Writers and the Fin-de-siècle, eds. Katherine Bowers and Ani Kokobobo (Cambridge University Press, 2015), 126–41.

  • “The ‘Angelic Little Image’ Falls from Grace: Adam’s Rib and the Reimagining of Maternity,” in Beyond Little Vera: Women’s Bodies, Women’s Welfare in Russia and Central/Eastern Europe, Ohio Slavic Papers, vol. 7, eds. Angela Brintlinger and Natasha Kolchevska (Columbus, OH: Ohio State UP, 2008), 55–71.

Reviews and Translations

  • Review of Anne Eakin Moss, Only Among Women: Philosophies of Women in the Russian and Soviet Imagination, 1860–1940 in Slavic and East European Journal 65 (2021).

  • Review of New Russian Drama: An Anthology, ed. Maksim Hanukai and Susanna Weygandt (New York: Columbia University Press, 2019), in Slavic Review 79 (2020).

  • Review of Barbara Evans Clements, A History of Women in Russia: From Earliest Times to the Present (Indiana University Press, 2012) in Slavic and East European Journal 58 (2014), 175–76.

  • Review of Ellen Rutten, Unattainable Bride Russia (Northwestern University Press, 2010), in Slavic and East European Journal 55 (2011), 96–98.

  • Translation of Evgeny Dobrenko, “Socialist Realism,” Cambridge Companion to the Twentieth-century Russian Novel, eds. Evgeny Dobrenko and Marina Balina, (Cambridge University Press, 2011), 97–113.



©2020 by My Beautiful Plastic Brain.

public engagements


Courses that I regularly teach at UC Davis include:

  • Humor and Comedy in Russian Culture.

  • Jews in Russian Culture.

  • Motherhood in Western Culture and History (lecture course offered through Humanities Program).

  • Post-Soviet Literature.

  • Russian Film.

  • Survey of Nineteenth-century Russian Poetry (Taught in Russian).

  • Twentieth-century Russian Literature (Taught in Russian).

  • Women in Russian Literature and Culture.


Department of German and Russian

University of California at Davis

1 Shields Ave

Davis, CA 95616

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