Jessica Merrill, Ph.D. 2012


Dissertation: The Role of Folkloristics in the Development of Russian Formalist and Czech Structuralist Literary Theory

After graduation, Jessica Merrill was a post-doctoral fellow in the Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers University (2012-2013), then, a Mellon Fellow (2013-2015) at Stanford University. Since 2016, she is Assistant Professor at Columbia University.

Her current book project focuses on the intellectual history of modern literary theory and the emergence of the Russian Formalist and Czech Structuralist movements. In addition to literary theory, her scholarly interests include Russian and Czech modernisms, Slavic folklore, and folklore theory. Her project, Between Language and Literature: The Role of Folklore Study in the Rise of Modern Literary Theory, draws on intellectual biography and archives of scholarly societies to trace the development of modern literary theory between 1890 and 1945 as it was informed by the traditions of Russian philology and the institution of the scholarly circle. The book will show how these traditions enabled pioneering theorists such as Viktor Shklovsky, Roman Jakobson and Jan Mukařovský to conceptualize literature in way which brought it closer to oral tradition or language.