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.

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 medieval coins to aerial photography, but I am now 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 began as an offshoot of my first book on the homology of kinship structure and literary structure, focuses on clone fiction—that is, science fiction premises in which multiple copies of human beings are produced from a single biological template. Because these clones are often artist figures, such narratives are about the place of artistic expression and aesthetic objects in a world in which human beings seem to be readily copied assemblages of information. Alongside recent clone fictions by Vladimir Sorokin, John Varley, Gene Wolfe, and others, I examine key concepts from an earlier watershed moment in the history of mechanical reproduction, the turn of the 19th century, in order to show how these authors are revising for a digital media landscape basis tenets of Romanticism: the artwork as an expression of the artist’s inner self; artworks as objects of interest that sustain our attention across series of related phenomena; and artworks as exercises in freedom, the freedom to follow their own unique logic.

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:


Edited Books:

  • The Svetlana Boym Reader. Edited with Cristina Vatulescu, et al. Forthcoming, Bloomsbury Press.


  • “Romantic Aesthetics and Cybernetic Fiction.” In The Russian Posthuman, edited Colleen McQuillen and Julia Vaingurt. Boston, MA: Academic Studies Press. Forthcoming.
  •  “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:

  • 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