Jessica E. Merrill

Jessica E. Merrill


Ph.D.: University of California, Berkeley 2012
M.A.: University of California, Berkeley 2007
B.A.: Northwestern University 2003




I am a scholar of twentieth century Russian literature and a specialist in the fields of Russian and Czech literary theory, folklore theory, and Russian and Czech modernisms. My book The Origins of Russian Literary Theory: Folklore, Philology, Form (Northwestern University Press, July 2022) is an intellectual history that reconstructs contexts for thinking about literary form from the 1840s to 1950s. This contextualization enables a reinterpretation of central Russian Formalist concepts and reveals lost paths in the history of literary theory. See here for an interview about the book.

My current book project, Circling in Time and Space: Modern Temporalities and the Narration of Experience, brings together research on the history of Russian literature, narrative theory, and folklore studies. I am researching the use of a particular narrative chronotope (cyclical time and bounded space) to articulate the experience of time in several case studies. These include Russian decadent and symbolist fiction, Soviet science fiction, and contemporary personal narratives communicated orally and online.


I regularly offer courses in the fields of twentieth-century Russian and Russian-comparative literature, literary theory, and folklore studies. I also teach regional courses dedicated to the cultures Eastern Europe, and have taught Literature Humanities. Regularly offered courses include:

UN3100 Folklore Past and Present (satisfies Global Core requirement)

UN3001 Slavic Cultures (satisfies Global Core requirement)

UN3221 Literature and Revolution

GR6111 Russian Formalism

GR8001 Proseminar in Literary Studies



The Origins of Russian Literary Theory: Folklore,

        Philology, Form (Northwestern

        University Press, 2022)

“Folk Genres” The New Cambridge History of Russian 

        Literature, Eds. Simon Franklin, Emma Widdis,

        Rebecca Reich (Forthcoming, Cambridge University


The North American Reception of Russian

        Formalism.” Literary Theory between East and West: 

        Transcultural and Transdisciplinary Movements from 

        Russian Formalism to Cultural Studies, Ed. Michał

        Mrugalski, Schamma Schahadat, Danuta Ulicka, Irina

        Wutsdorff (Walter de Gruyter, 2022) 

Dal’nee chtenie’ v Rossii” Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie 

        [New Literary Review] (No.2, 2018). Also published as

        “Distant Reading in Russia” in Eurozine. May 2, 2018

Historical Poetics and Poetic Language: Rethinking the

        Concept of Literary Autonomy for Modern Literary

        Theory.” Poetics Today. Volume 38, No. 3, 2017, pp.


High Modernism in Theory and Practice: Karel Teige and

        Tomáš Baťa.” Slavic Review. Volume 76, Issue 2.

        Summer 2017, pp. 428-454

Fol’kloristicheskie osnovaniia ” [The Folkloristic

        Foundations of V. B.Shklovsky’s ‘Theory of

        Prose’]. Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie [New Literary

        Review] No. 3 (133). June 2015

The Stalinist Subject and Mikhail Bulgakov’s ‘The Master

        and Margarita’” The Russian Review 74, Issue 2. April

        2015, pp. 293-310

The Role of Folklore Study in the Rise of Russian

        Formalist and Czech Structuralist Literary Theory.

        Diss. University of California, Berkeley, 2012