Dr Emily Finer

Senior Lecturer

Researcher profile

+44 (0)1334 46 3648
Room 37
United Colleges
Office hours
On Teams, by appointment


Research areas

Research and Teaching

I work with literature that travels between cultures and languages. My research falls within a range of disciplines: Russian, Polish, English, Comparative Literature, Translation, and Jewish Studies.

My current book project explores the vast cultural reception of Charles Dickens and his novels in the Russian-speaking world. Whether in official Soviet autobiographies of cosmonauts, memoirs from the GULAG, patriotic Second World War poetry, or Brodsky’s Nobel speech, Dickens appears again and again as moral guide, reliable childhood friend, and model author. Titled The Best of Times, the Worst of Times: Charles Dickens in Twentieth-Century Russia, my book will explore Dickens’s canonisation for the mass reader, and how his novels were translated, taught, re-written, theorised, and imitated. My initial survey essay is available in The Reception of Dickens in Europe (London: Bloomsbury, 2013) and an article is forthcoming with Modern Language Review. I collect memories and impressions from anyone who has read Dickens in Russian on this website: http://russiandickens.wordpress.com/.

The Dickens project follows my research into the twisty relationship between the Russian Formalist, Viktor Shklovskii, and his favourite author of nearly two hundred years earlier, Laurence Sterne, author of Tristram Shandy. In Turning into Sterne: Viktor Shklovskii and Literary Reception (Oxford: Legenda, 2010), I ask how Sterne’s experimental eighteenth-century novel could have attracted a Russian writer during the 1917 Revolution and Civil War. This book is the first study to discuss Shklovskii’s monolingualism and his reliance on Russian translations of English literature.

Another area of interest is the practice of combatting antisemitism through literature and humour. Here I read Jewish and non-Jewish authors from Russia and Poland, writing between 1900 and 1936. My article, “Testing the boundaries: migration and metamorphosis in two short stories by Lev Lunts” introduces an unusual writer who explored his hyphenated identity through stories of time travel and transformation. I enjoy sharing my own translations of anti-anti-Semitic satirical short stories in public lectures and guided reading sessions. I have an ongoing enthusiasm for Jewish culture in contemporary Poland, and in recent Polish culture in Scotland, particularly the illustrations of Monika Szyd?owska.

I enjoy presenting my research on BBC Radio. Extracts from my published translation of a story by Teffi were dramatized in an episode of The Cultural Front and my research contributed to The Sunday Feature and Red Mars. In 2017, I was a guest on Radio 4’s In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg, discussing Pushkin’s Evgenii Onegin.

As a teacher of Russian literature and language, I prioritise the formation of new canons and diverse curricula. I teach honours modules on Russian Children’s LiteraturePushkin, and Russian Modernism. I enjoy introducing our second-year students to reading literature in Russian after only a year’s language study: Pushkin’s Queen of Spades, poetry by Anna Bunina, and Anna Akhmatova. I was the first Convenor of the Comparative Literature undergraduate degree at St Andrews and contribute Russian, Polish, and English texts to Comparative Literature modules on Critical Theory, the Novel, Russian Formalism and Modernism, Canonicity, and Cultural Memory.

I am a member of the British Comparative Literature Association Executive Committee. I am also joint chair of the Editorial board for MHRA/Legenda’s Studies in Comparative Literature Series.

I welcome enquiries from prospective postgraduate students on nineteenth or twentieth-century Russian literature; children’s literature and cultural policy; English authors in transnational contexts; Russian critical theory; digital humanities; and, Jewish Studies relating to Russia or Poland.

PhD supervision

  • Sarah King
  • Emma Puranen
  • James Gregg
  • Grace Docherty

Selected publications


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