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Photo by Katie Deutsch

Dr. Julia Alekseyeva was born in Kyiv in the former USSR and emigrated to the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago in childhood. She is an academic and author-illustrator specializing in the interactions between global media and radical leftist politics. She is an assistant professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania with a secondary appointment in Cinema and Media Studies. Her university affiliations are too long to list but include the Center for Experimental Ethnography (CEE), Art History, Comparative Literature, Russian and Eastern European Studies (REES), and East Asian Languages and Civilizations (EALC). She has previously taught at Brooklyn College, the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, and Harvard University. In 2024, she received the Dean's Distinguished Teaching Award by an Assistant Professor. Her first academic book, Antifascism and the Avant-Garde: Radical Documentary in the 1960s, will be published by the University of California Press in March 2025. 

Alongside her research, Dr. Alekseyeva is a graphic artist specializing in nonfiction graphic narratives and comics journalism. Her first full-length graphic novel, a nonfiction historical memoir entitled Soviet Daughter: A Graphic Revolution, was published by Microcosm in January 2017. It won the VLA Diversity Award in the Adult category, and has been featured in NPR, Lilith, Tablet, The Week, Book Riot, and The Rumpus, among others. Since 2017 she has published shorter non-fiction graphic essays in outlets such as The Nib, Jewish Currents, Paper Brigade, World Literature Today, and Lilith. She also received press from publications such as Reuters, the New York Times, and Bloomberg Business for illustrating the first graphic novel legal brief, written by Bob Kohn and submitted as an amicus brief in USA vs. Apple. It was included in the 2013 Almanac and Reader for Best Legal Writing. 

In addition to comics work, Dr. Alekseyeva enjoys road trips and gets a little too excited about karaoke. As befitting her Eastern European heritage, she occasionally writes and publishes poetry. She is also a DJ for the roving silent disco What the Float (recently linked to Situationism and psychogeography in Current Affairs), and has created mixes for New York City, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. She enjoys going on hikes with her canine familiar, a Pyrenees-Husky rescue mutt named Akiva the Wise.

Classes Taught


Cinema and Socialism

World Film History 1945-present

Global Documentary

Arts of Abolition and Liberation 

Japanese Cinema

Graphic Memoir

Revolution and Ideology in Japanese Cinema 

Brooklyn College / Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema

World Cinema: 1960 to Present 

National Screen Cultures: Japanese Cinema 

Activist Media Studies 

Studies in Non-Fiction Film 

National Cinema: Russian Cinema

National Cinema: Japanese Cinema


Imagining the City: Literature, Film, and the Arts

Animation + Revolution: World Cinema and the Animated Avant-Garde

From Comics to the Graphic Novel: an Alternative History

Fundamentals of Drawing

Drawing-to Painting: the Figure

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