Heli Rantala profile picture
Postdoctoral Researcher, Cultural History and European and World History
Docent, Faculty of Humanities
PhD, Docent


Arcanuminkuja 1

Areas of expertise

cultural history
nineteenth-century studies
history of concepts
intellectual history
press history
text reuse
travel writing
literary history


I conducted my MA and PhD studies at the University of Turku, where I studied History, Philosophy and some Political Science as well.

I gained my doctoral degree in 2013 in Cultural History at the University of Turku. In my doctoral dissertation, I studied the conceptual dimension of the Finnish nineteenth-century cultural discourse by investigating the entangled meanings of culture, Bildung and civilisation in the writings of Johan Vilhelm Snellman (1806–1881), a Swedish-speaking philosopher, journalist and academic.

During my academic career, I have had an opportunity to work in the field of doctoral training as a co-ordinator of several doctoral programmes. I have also had the pleasure to promote the unique scientific and artistic symposium, Aboagora, as a co-ordinator and a member of the organising team of the symposium. In addition to my academic work, I am active in some scholarly societies. I am especially interested in the fields of scientific editing and science communication.


I have worked as a teacher and a supervisor in the interdisciplinary study programme Baltic Sea Region Studies (UTU) for several years. In this programme, I have taught courses on the themes of identity, nationalism, transnationalism and cultural transfer. I have also been involved in various teaching activities at my home department. During spring 2018, for example, I was co-ordinating the course "Romantic Era in Europe". Currently, I am teaching an MA level seminar in cultural history.  


In my doctoral thesis, I was interested in the concept of culture but also in the nineteenth-century theories of history. After earning my PhD, I have had an opportunity to work in several research projects led by Professor Hannu Salmi, first in Travelling Notions of Culture: Itineraries of Bildung and Civilisation in Early Nineteenth-Century Europe and later in Computational History and the Transformation of Public Discourse in Finland, 1640–1910, and in Viral Culture in Early Nineteenth-Century Europe. In these projects, I have studied the spatial dimension of civilisation (for example in Nordic travelogues), text re-use in Finnish newspapers and the viral nature of revolution in early nineteenth-century Europe.

Currently I'm working in a research project Information Flows across the Baltic Sea: Swedish-language press as a cultural mediator, 1771-1918 led by Prof. Salmi. Moreover, I'm the head of the project in Mobility of Words and Places of Knowledge: Learned Communities in Early Nineteenth-Century Finland.

I am also interested in university history, especially student activities within the Academy of Turku during the first decades of the nineteenth century.


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Jarl Gallén keskiajan tutkijana (2021)

Immonen Teemu, Kaartinen Marjo, Ollitervo Sakari, Rantala Heli, Räsänen Marika, Välimäki Reima
(Vertaisarvioitu alkuperäisartikkeli tai data-artikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä (A1))