Jacob Emery

Jacob Emery

Director of Graduate Studies

Associate Professor, Comparative Literature

Associate Professor, Slavic & East European Languages and Cultures


  • Ph.D., Harvard University, 2006

About Jacob Emery

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.

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