Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies

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Reisner, Henriette

Henriette Reisner, M.A.



Doctoral Project

Von Propaganda bis Poesie. Der frühe Sowjetische Animationsfilm im Spiegel politischer und ästhetischer Debatten — abgeschlossen

Early Soviet Animation as reflected on the Aesthetical and Political Debates — completed

The PhD project examined the early development of Soviet Animation and traces the process of its comprehensive reorganization during the 1930s, when the genre evolved from an experimental field into a tool for propaganda purposes, and finally into an entertainment medium for children. With a special focus on the international impact of predominantly American cartoons, it aims to investigate the causes of this transformation and the circumstances in which it took place. When Disney's films first conquered the Russian audience in 1935, most of the young artists were captivated by the new possibilities Disney's technologies had to offer, whereas critics argued that the cheerful and apolitical character of the American cartoons did not agree with the ideological guidelines of Soviet art. However “Give us a Soviet Mickey Mouse” became a popular slogan among Soviet filmmakers working in the field of animation, and soon a new course was charted, focusing on the creation of Disney-style animation, while previous genres such as satire or pamphlet were removed from the agenda. This project acts on the assumption that art in the early Soviet Union was highly competitive, and it was not clear from the beginning if comedy or folktales would be part of it. Against this background, the art of animation seems to be an exciting case study provoking a number of questions: Did Soviet Animation have a jester’s license because it was directed at children and it was not taken as seriously as live-action film? If not, how and to what extent did Disney-style animation engage with politics and become a tool for the socialist “production of souls”?

Curriculum Vitae

2003-2010 M.A. in Slavic and German Studies, Humboldt-University Berlin. 2005-2006 Exchange semesters at RGGU (Russian State University for Humanities), Moscow. 2007 GoEast Fellowship, DAAD,”Gurt Centre”, Kyiv. 2012-2018 Ph.D. candidate at the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies and LMU Munich.

Positions, Assignments and Memberships


Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Jurij Norštejn und Artavazd Pelešjan. In: Michael Baumgartner / Kathleen Bühler / Nina Zimmer (Hgg.): Die Revolution ist tot - lang lebe die Revolution! Von Malewitsch bis Judd, von Deineka bis Bartana (Katalog zur Ausstellung, Kunstmuseum Bern, 13.04.-09.07.2017), München u.a. 2017, pp. 32-37.

Further Publication

Juri Norstein [Gnose in the Dossier "Auf der Leinwand: russisches Kino"]. In:, 23.10.2018. URL:

Presentations (selected)

"Zwischen Propaganda und Poesie. Der frühe sowjetische Animationsfilm im Spiegel politischer und ästhetischer Debatten". (Jahrestagung der Graduiertenschule für Ost- und Südosteuropastudien "Studying East and Southeast Europe as Area Studies: Paradigms - Themes - Methods for the 21st Century", München, 25.-27.10.2018)