Yuri Tsivian

Professor Emeritus in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies, Department of Art History, Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures, Department of Comparative Literature, and the College
Ph.D., St. Petersburg State University (formerly Leningrad State University)
Research Interests: History of film and film styles; film and Russian/Soviet art; filmmakers Dziga Vertov; Sergei Eisenstein; old versus new media; gesture and performance; film editing - history, theory and practice


Emeritus faculty; retired in Spring 2018

Yuri Tsivian studied film history in Riga (Latvia) and Moscow (Russia) combining it with studying semiotics under the guidance of Yuri Lotman (1922 – 1993), a prominent cultural scholar of the Tartu University (Estonia) in collaboration with whom Yuri has written a book on film language Dialogues with the Screen (Tallinn,1994). The author of over one hundred publications in sixteen languages, Tsivian is also credited with launching two new fields in the studies of film and culture: carpalistics and cinemetrics. The former studies and compares different uses of gesture in theater, visual arts, literature and film; the latter uses digital tools to explore the art of film editing. 

Tsivian is also involved in the restoration and video mastering of silent films; you can hear his voice on the audio essay for the DVD version of Dziga Vertov's Man with the Movie Camera (Image Entertainment, 1995), on the audio-visual essay on Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible, recorded on: Eisenstein: the Sound Years (DVD by Criterion Collection, 2001), and, both in English and Russian, on his CD-ROM Immaterial Bodies: Cultural Anatomy of Early Russian Films (USC 2000) for which Yuri received the 2001 award for the best interactive learning project from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

All the World's Montage - May 2018


In May 2018 Cinema and Media Studies held a conference to celebrate the distinguished career of Yuri Tsivian.  

  • Speakers included: Evgenii Bershstein, Doron Galili, Mikhail Gronas, Sarah Keller, Daria Khitrova, Katharina Loew, John MacKay, Zdenko Mandusic, Dan Morgan, Cristina Petersen, Roman Timenchik, and Artemis Willis. 
  • Key note addresses by Tom Gunning and Paolo Cherchi Usai
  • Screening of Peasant Girl from Riazan (1927) with live accompaniment by David Drazin

This event was made possible through the generous support of the Division of the Humanities; the Film Studies Center; the Department of Art History, and the Franke Institute for the Humanities. 


Courses taught at the University of Chicago include:

Visual Style in Still and Moving Images (CMST 14505), Left-Wing Art and Soviet Film Culture of the 1920's (CMST 24702 / 34702), The Cinema of Charlie Chaplin (CMST 26400), History of International Cinema, Part II: Sound to 1960 (CMST 28600 / 48600), and Style and Performance from Stage to Screen (CMST 68400)