Ertegun Staff and Scholar Profiles

Jacob Meister

MPhil Comparative Literature | 2015 Graduate
British/ American

In 2013, I graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University with an AB in Comparative Literature (French and Russian); I additionally completed two secondary fields in German and Latin literatures. My senior thesis, “Anatomizing the City: A Physiological Reading of Balzac’s Paris and Dostoevsky’s Petersburg,” examined the way in which concepts from the natural sciences (most importantly physiology) came to bear upon the literary representation of the city in the mid-nineteenth century.  I contend that the pseudo-empirical, chatty urban sketch (the French physiologie) presents questions concerning individual freedom, personal development, and the formation of character—all of which are variously contested within the works of Balzac and Dostoevsky.

My research interests include the development of 19th century Russian literary prose in its European context, Franco-Russian literary exchanges, German philosophy, French and Russian structuralism, Mikhail Bakhtin, literary theory, and the interplay between positivist science, philosophy, and literature in the 19th century. At Oxford, I intend to read more extensively in French and Russian literature, and complete an English-language translation of Mikhail Bakhtin’s unrealized project on Gustave Flaubert in the history of European realism. I also will begin the process of learning Arabic.

After my time at Oxford and Ertegun House, I intend to apply for doctoral programs in comparative literature in both the United States and England, with the hope of becoming an academic.

Outside of the library, I love taking long walks along the Isis and throughout Oxford, having stimulating conversations with friends, and attending plays.

 Academic Awards and Honors:

2013                 Elected to Phi Beta Kappa

2013                 Awarded a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Program) Graduate Study Scholarship


2013                Awarded a Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Graduate Scholarship (October 2013-present)