Indiana University Bloomington

Jacob Emery, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Jacob Emery

Office number: GA 4033
E-mail address:

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

Dissertation: “Stock Exchanges: Heredity, Identity, and Metaphor in Modernist Slavic Literature.”

Specialties/Research Interests: Russian, Balkan, and Scandinavian fiction; rhetoric and figure; critical theory; Marxism; anthropology; science fiction; metafiction; translation.

I have published stray articles on topics from Thomas Pynchon to Russo-Swedish literary relations, but I am primarily engaged in two extended inquiries into the intersection of fictional rhetoric and economic life. Both projects draw inspiration from the theory of figure—especially the ideas formulated within German Romanticism and the tradition stretching from Russian Formalism to deconstruction—and from the anthropological and Marxist approaches that attempt to correlate economic structures and cultural forms.

One of these lines of interest, which derives from my dissertation, examines a series of Russian and South Slavic novels in which parents and children mistake themselves for each other in mirrors. Besides showing how such scenes spell out principles of literary construction through metaphors of hereditary identity, I hope to demonstrate that the confusion of parents and children points to a continuity between the figural economies of texts and the social economy, which also renders people substitutable for one another in the reproduction of labor through successive generations.

The other project is an attempt 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.

Selected Publications:


  • Alternative Kinships: Economy and Family in Russian Modernism, Northern Illinois University Press, 2017.


  • “Romantic Aesthetics and Cybernetic Fiction.” In The Russian Posthuman, edited Colleen McQuillen and Julia Vaingurt. Boston, MA: Academic Studies Press. Forthcoming.
  • “The Customs House of Hades: Why Dickens and Gogol Traffic with the Underworld.” Forthcoming, Yearbook of Comparative Literature.

  •  “Sigizmund Krzhizhanovksy’s Poetics of Passivity.” Forthcoming, 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.

  • "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:

  • Tales of Balkan Empire
  • Unfinished Novels
  • Dreams Come True
  • Nabokov
  • Russian Literature from Pushkin to Dostoevsky
  • Figuring out the Novel
  • Central European Cinema
  • Puzzles and Puzzlers
  • Doubles, Copy Clerks, and Clones
  • Questioning Genre from Schlegel to Bakhtin