AMHERST, Mass. – Victoria Rizo Lenshyn, a doctoral candidate in German and Scandinavian studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been awarded a research grant by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) to support her dissertation research at the Academy for Film and Television (HFF “Konrad Wolf”) in Potsdam/Babelsberg, Germany.
During the next academic year, Rizo Lenshyn will conduct research on the stars and star culture in the cinema of socialist East Germany.
The campus nominating committee praised Rizo Lenshyn’s project on stardom in East Germany’s socialist context as “extremely rich and well-conceived.” They added, “By querying the use, reception, and representation of stardom within a supposedly anti-individualist, anti-capitalist ideological context, this project has the potential to markedly redefine long-held assumptions about the cultural meaning of motion pictures stardom (as well as celebrity).”
A native of Winnemucca, Nev., and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno, Rizo Lenshyn is currently research associate in UMass Amherst’s DEFA Film Library and has also just completed graduate certificates in both film studies and advanced feminist studies.
The DAAD is a principal U.S. funder of research exchange with Germany in all academic fields, and has a long history of support for UMass Amherst research.
The Film and Television Academy in Potsdam/Babelsberg (HFF “Konrad Wolf”) and UMass Amherst established formal cooperation in November 2011. Facilitated by the DEFA Film Library, the agreement encompasses both research collaborations and faculty and student exchanges. Rizo Lenshyn’s research stay follows 2011 activities, including collaboration on a conference on DEFA International and a subsequent book to be published this month.
Past collaborative activities between UMass Amherst and the HFF include consultation on academic activities related to the Potsdamer Filmjahr 2011, the 100th anniversary of the historic German film industry located at the Babelsberg Studios. Evan Torner, a Ph.D. candidate at UMass Amherst, created the English version of the Filmmuseum’s permanent historical exhibition. Torner conducted his dissertation research at the HFF on a Fulbright in 2010-11.
Rizo Lenshyn’s DAAD grant to work at the Film and Television Academy is the next step in furthering an exchange relationship that goes back many years. Professor Barton Byg, founding director of the DEFA Film Library, has visited the HFF many times since conducting research there as a Fulbright senior researcher in 1988-89. Sky Arndt-Briggs and Filmmuseum Potsdam staff co-curated the exhibit “Shadows and Sojourners: Jews and Antifascism in East German Film,” which has toured the U.S. and Canada and is currently installed at the Goethe Institute Chicago.