Universiteit Leiden

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Dorine Schellens

University Lecturer

Dr. D.E.A. Schellens
+31 71 527 6553

Dorine Schellens is a university lecturer at the Centre for the Arts in Society with expertise on contemporary Russian and German literature and culture.

More information about Dorine Schellens

Fields of interest

  • Russian literature and art under late socialism and post-socialism
  • Contemporary German literature and culture
  • Art and politics
  • Cultural history and theory
  • Supporting students and scholars at risk


Current research projects

My current research focuses on imagined futures in contemporary Russian and Eastern German literature and art as media that reflect and shape societal discourses on change in the post-communist region.

My research intersects with my involvement in a project that support students, scholars, and cultural workers at risk. The University of New Europe is an academic institution in the making which will offer research, teaching, and dialogue on European politics, culture, society, and climate in a global perspective. In response to Russia’s war in Ukraine, the team behind this project is also engaged in supporting scholars, students, and cultural workers at risk with a mentoring network and an open access database of emergency opportunities.

Together with Dr. Otto Boele (Leiden University), I edit a volume on Reading Russian Literature, 19802020: Literary Consumption, Memory and Identity, which deals with the nexus between literary consumption and collective identity formation in Russia from the 1980s until today.

I also publish on Russian protest art, literature, and popular culture since the early 2000s, with a focus on the work of Kirill Medvedev, Roman Osminkin, and Pavel Arsen’ev.

PhD research

Kanonbildung im transkulturellen Netzwerk. Die Rezeptionsgeschichte des Moskauer Konzeptualismus aus deutsch-russischer Sicht (transcript Verlag, 2021)

How did a circle of Soviet artists and writers virtually unknown until perestroika turn into Russia’s most influential contemporary art movement? This book reconstructs the cultural history and canonization of a group of painters and poets known as the Moscow conceptualists, who paradoxically did not perceive themselves as a movement before their intense reception in the international and post-Soviet art world in the 1990s.

Today, Moscow conceptualism does not just figure prominently in art histories and museums, but also continues to inspire a new generation of Russian artists, ranging from the streetwear designer Gosha Rubchinskiy to the protest art collective Pussy Riot. This book retraces the reasons for the international popularity of this group by developing a new methodological framework that enables us to study canon formation as a transnational rather than national process. Combining insights from network theory, cultural transfer studies, and reception history, the analysis reconstructs the circulation of actors, artworks, and ideas in a transnational network across Russia, Europe and the US from the 1970s until today. By focusing on the migration and translation of knowledge between different cultures as well as areas of society such as the art scene, the museum world, and academia, the book offers a contribution to pressing debates on the need to rethink processes of canonization.

For contributions on this topic in English, I refer to my blog post (“Rumor or Reality? Moscow Conceptualism as a Challenge for Our Contemporary Art Canon”, 2019) and talk (“‘I Live – I See’: The Role of Moscow Conceptualism in Memory Debates About the Soviet Past”, 2020).



  • 2015–2018: PhD candidate at the International Graduate School 1956: Cultural Transfer and Cultural Identity: Russian-German Contacts in the European Context, University of Freiburg/Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow. I received my PhD Kanonbildung im transkulturellen Netzwerk: Die Rezeptionsgeschichte des Moskauer Konzeptualismus aus deutsch-russischer Sicht summa cum laude. This study was published at transcript Verlag in 2021. A short English summary is available here.
  • 20132015: Master of Arts in European Literatures and Cultures, University of Freiburg (summa cum laude)
  • 20112012: Erasmus stay at the Free University of Berlin, Institute of German and Dutch Languages and Literatures (winter semester)
  • 20102013: Bachelor of Arts in Russian Studies, Leiden University (cum laude)
  • 20092013: Bachelor of Arts in German Language and Culture, Leiden University (cum laude)

Teaching activities 

I teach courses in the BA German Language and Culture, BA International Studies (specialization: Russia and Eurasia), MA Literary Studies, and the Minor Disinformation and Strategic Communication in Global Media.

Grants and awards

  • PhD position at the International Graduate School 1956: Cultural Transfer and Cultural Identity at the University of Freiburg/Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), 20152018.
  • Alumni Award for MA thesis at the Faculty of Philology, University of Freiburg, October 2016.

University Lecturer

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • Duitse T&L

Work address

Arsenaalstraat 1
2311 CT Leiden
Room number B1.14



  • Stichting UNE Foundation (UNE) Bestuurslid van Stichting UNE Foundation (UNE)
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