Americans Experience Russia analyzes how American scholars, journalists, and artists envisioned, experienced, and interpreted Russia/the Soviet Union over the last century. While many histories of diplomatic, economic, and intellectual connections between the United States and the Soviet Union can be found, none has yet examined how Americans’ encounters with Russian/Soviet society shaped their representations of a Russian/Soviet ‘other’ and its relationship with an American ‘west.’

The essays in this volume critically engage with postcolonial theories which posit that a self-valorizing, unmediated west dictated the colonial encounter, repressing native voices that must be recovered. Unlike western imperialists and their colonial subjects, Americans and Russians long co-existed in a tense parity, regarding each other as other-than-European equals, sometime cultural role models, temporary allies, and political antagonists. In examining the fiction, film, journalism, treatises, and histories Americans produced out of their ‘Russian experience,’ the contributors to this volume closely analyze these texts, locate them in their sociopolitical context, and gauge how their producers’ profession, politics, gender, class, and interaction with native Russian interpreters conditioned their authored responses to Russian/Soviet reality. The volume also explores the blurred boundaries between national identities and representations of self/other after the Soviet Union’s fall.

chapter |11 pages


ByChoi Chatterjee, Beth Holmgren

chapter 1|17 pages

Studying Our Nearest Oriental Neighbor

American Scholars and Late Imperial Russia
ByDavid C. Engerman

part |55 pages

Inside Stories

chapter 2|19 pages

Hallie Flanagan and the Soviet Union

New Heaven, New Earth, New Theater
ByLynn Mally

chapter 3|17 pages

Kennan Encounters Russia, 1933–1937

ByFrank Costigliola

chapter 4|17 pages

Constructing a Cold War Epic

Harrison Salisbury and the Siege of Leningrad
ByLisa A. Kirschenbaum

part |39 pages

Our Popular Russian Romance

chapter 6|19 pages

Russia on Their Mind

How Hollywood Pictured the Soviet Front
ByBeth Holmgren

part |33 pages

Conspicuous Consumers

chapter 7|12 pages

Another Mission to Moscow

Ida Rosenthal and Consumer Dreams
ByEmily S. Rosenberg

part |37 pages

Americans in the Russian Mirror

part |24 pages

Living across Cultures

chapter 11|6 pages

An Interview with Marina Goldovskaya, a “Russian American” Filmmaker

ByMarina Goldovskaya, Choi Chatterjee, Beth Holmgren

chapter 12|16 pages

The Search for What Might Be True

Thoughts from Inside an Era of Change
ByJohn Freedman