Indiana University Bloomington

Jacob Emery, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Studies

Jacob Emery

Office number: GA 4033
E-mail address:

Degree: Ph.D in Slavic, Harvard University, 2006.

Specialties/Research Interests: Comparative Literature. Russian, Balkan, and Scandinavian literature. Materialism and aesthetics. Rhetoric and figure. Modernism. Theory. Science fiction. Utopian thought. Metafiction. Technologies of transcription. Kinship. Panoramic views and aerial photography. Puzzles.

Professor Emery studies artworks in themselves and as a class of objects that we experience as qualitatively distinct from other products of human labor. His dozens of articles, on topics ranging from medieval coins to aerial photography, largely examine the intersection between the aesthetic imagination and economic life—for example, how artworks are allied with processes like generational or monetary exchange.

His first book, Alternative Kinships, examined the aesthetic and economic dimensions of Russian novels that explore modes of relatedness beyond the nuclear family. Sections of three other book projects have been published as articles: 1) a collection of essays on tyranny and totality; 2) an inquiry into the status of aesthetic objects at moment in which all phenomena, including artworks and human beings, are increasingly approached as readily copied assemblages of information; and 3) an effort to elaborate a materialist conception of the mise-en-abyme, or text within the text, as a mechanism by which we recognize the work of art as distinct from other kinds of work—that is, the larger work of economic production that frames the artwork, and which the artwork models in miniature.

Professor Emery teaches surveys of Russian literature and literary theory as well as seminars on themes including Vladimir Nabokov, the modernist novel, science fiction, Marxist thought, and Formalism. He holds a joint appointment in the departments of Slavic and Comparative Literature at Indiana. He has also taught as a visiting professor at Moscow State University’s annual Summer School in the Humanities and in the departments of Slavic and Comparative Literature at Harvard University.

Selected Publications:


Edited Volumes:

  • Return to Mythologies. Edited with Eyal Peretz. Yearbook of Comparative Literature, 2018.
  • The Svetlana Boym Reader. Edited with Cristina Vatulescu, et al. Bloomsbury Press, 2018.


  • "The Mirror and the Mine." In Capitalism and the Camera, edited Kevin Coleman and Daniel James. Verso Press, forthcoming, 2021.
  • "Between Fiction and Physiology: Brain Fever in The Brother's Karamazov and its English Afterlife." With Elizabeth F. Geballe. PMLA, forthcoming, October 2020.
  • “Humbert Humbert as Mad Man: Art and Advertising in Lolita.” Studies in the Novel, 2019.
  • “Thinking with Roland Barthes’ Mythologies, 50 Years After 1968 and 400 Years Before.” Introduction to Return to Mythologies: Yearbook of Comparitive Literature, 2019
  • “Romantic Aesthetics and Cybernetic Fiction.” In The Russian Posthuman, edited Colleen McQuillen and Julia Vaingurt. Boston, MA: Academic Studies Press. 2018.
  •  “Sigizmund Krzhizhanovksy’s Poetics of Passivity.” January 2017, Russian Review.

  • “Species of Legitimacy: The Rhetoric of Succession around Russian Coins.” Slavic Review, Spring 2016.

  • “Danilo Kiš’s Metafictional Genealogies.” Slavic and East European Journal, Fall 2015.

  • “Jacob Emery reviews David Damrosch’s World Literature in Theory." 2014, Asymptote.
  • “The Customs House of Hades: Why Dickens and Gogol Traffic with the Underworld.” Yearbook of Comparative Literature, 2014.

  • "Keeping Time: Reading and Writing in 'Conversation about Dante.'" Slavic Review, Fall 2014.
  • "A Clone Playing Craps Will Never Abolish Chance: Randomness and Fatality in Sorokin's Clone Fictions." Science Fiction Studies, July 2014.
  • "Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky and Russia's Belated Modernism." Iowa Review Forum on Literature and Translation, 2012.
  • “Figures Taken for Signs: Allegory, Symbol, Mise-en-abyme.” Comparative Literature, Fall 2012.
  • “Art Is Inoculation: The Infectious Imagination of Leo Tolstoy.” Russian Review, October 2011.
  • "Art of the Industrial Trace." New Left Review, September-October 2011.
  • “The Land of Milk and Money: Communal Kitchens and Collactaneous Kinship in the Soviet 1920s.” (M)Otherhood as Allegory, edited Lisa Bernstein and Pamela Goco. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholar's Press, 2009.
  • “Kinship and Figure in Andrei Bely’s Petersburg.” PMLA, January 2008.
  • “Repetition and Exchange in Legitimizing Empire: Konstantin Batiushkov’s Scandinavian Corpus.” Russian Review, October 2007.
  • “Guides to Berlin.” Comparative Literature, Fall 2002.
  • “Stalno prisustvo oca u njegovoj kosi.” (“The Persistence of the Father in his Hair.”) Rec (Belgrade), July 2002.
  • “Notes on Shatsk as a Gogol Figure.” Pynchon Notes, Spring-Fall 2000-2001.

Courses Taught:

  • Formalish, Bakhtin, and the Tartu School
  • Science Fiction
  • Historiography and Historical Fiction
  • Marxism
  • Tales of Balkan Empire
  • Unfinished Novels
  • Dreams Come True
  • Nabokov
  • Russian Literature from Tolstoy to Dosoevsky
  • Russian Literature from Pushkin to Dostoevsky
  • Figuring out the Novel
  • Waste and Idleness
  • Central European Cinema
  • Puzzles and Puzzlers
  • Doubles, Copy Clerks, and Clones
  • Questioning Genre from Schlegel to Bakhtin