John MacKay
ifk Senior Fellow

Zeitraum des Fellowships:
01. Oktober 2019 bis 31. Januar 2020

Avant-doc east and west


While at the IFK, John MacKay plans to examine the relationships between avant-garde and documentary filmmaking in the USSR-Russia and Western Europe, with a particular focus on the response of Austrian avant-garde and documentary filmmakers to early Soviet film. The reception of Vertov in Austria has been of unusual duration and importance, involving major film restorations and digitization, exhibition, scholarship, conferences, translations and (not least) archiving. He will consider the impact of Soviet film on actual filmmaking practice in Austria. To this end, he will not only watch a great many hard-to-see films, but will also conduct interviews with filmmakers and critics, focusing on figures such as Peter Kubelka, VALIE EXPORT, the late Kurt Kren, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Angela Summereder, and the late Michael Glawogger. He wants to hear directly from filmmakers and their collaborators about their own work, and about how their own encounter with Soviet filmmaking helped to shape it.


John MacKay received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Yale University in 1998. His teaching interests include Russian, German, French, and English language and literature; comparative studies of poetry; literary theory; film history, theory, and aesthetics; documentary film; intellectual history (particularly comparative studies in modernity); Marxism; history of hermeneutics; literature and slavery; utopias; world cinema; and collage across the arts.


Film Theory: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford/New York 2020; Dziga Vertov: Life and Work, vol. 1, Boston 2018; True Songs of Freedom: The Russian and Russo-Soviet Reception of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” Wisconsin 2013; Inscription and Modernity: From Wordsworth to Mandelstam, Indiana 2006.

IFK KINO mit John Mackay

IFK KINO mit John Mackay

18. November 2019, 18.00 Uhr

Kunstuniversität Linz, Domgasse 1,Wohnzimmer Zeitbasierte Medien, 4.OG

Übertragung des Montagsvortrags des IFK nach Linz.

Die Abteilungen Kulturwissenschaft und Zeitbasierte Medien laden zum wöchentlichen IFK Kino ins Wohnzimmer der Zeitbasierten Medien.

Beginnend mit dem Vortrag von John Mackay:


Vortrag von John MacKay: Dziga Vertov, Artist of the Revolution

Dziga Vertov unquestionably saw his own approach to cinema—very roughly, non-fictional experimental filmmaking—as a revolutionary response to the October Revolution. How were his films and writings revolutionary, and does their revolutionary character remain legible for us today? 

John MacKay is a Senior Fellow at the IFK in Vienna, and Professor of Film and Media Studies and Professor and Chair of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Yale University.
He is the author of Inscription and Modernity: From Wordsworth to Mandelstam (Indiana University Press, 2006), Four Russian Serf Narratives (University of Wisconsin Press, 2010), True Songs of Freedom: Uncle Tom’s Cabin in Russian Culture and Society (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013). His Dziga Vertov: Life and Work (Boston 2018) is part 1 of a three volume biographie. His Film Theory: A Very Short Introduction is forthcoming from Oxford University Press 2020.

Mittwoch 11. Dezember 2019, 19 Uhr

Ort: Institut für Theater-, Film- und Medienwissenschaft

UZA II, Rotunde, Althanstraße 14, 1090 Wien

Ebene 5, Raum 558

18 November 2019
  • Lecture


This talk will provide an overview of the life and work of Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov (1896-1954), and briefly reflect on the significance of Vertovs militant film practice today, more than 100 years after the 1917 Revolution and at a time when the beliefs that animated Vertov  a belief in a Communist future, and in progress more generally  no longer carry the same force for the global left.