Mari-Liisa Varila profile picture
University Lecturer, English, Classics and Multilingual Translation Studies


+358 29 450 3365
+358 50 576 2167
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Areas of expertise

history of English
historical discourse linguistics
manuscript studies
book history
sixteenth-century book production
scribal practices
early English scientific writing
paratext studies


Mari-Liisa Varila (PhD, University of Turku 2016) is a university teacher (junior lecturer) at the Department of English (since 2018). She has previously worked as a postdoctoral researcher, doctoral researcher, and academic assistant at the University of Turku and as a part-time teacher at Åbo Akademi University. She has also spent time in the UK as a visiting scholar (Visiting Scholar, Queen Mary University of London, School of English and Drama, Sep to Nov 2017; Sassoon Visiting Fellow, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, May 2018). During the academic year 2021-22, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Early Modern Graphic Literacies project (PI Matti Peikola, Vice PI Varila) funded by the Academy of Finland 2021-25. Currently, Varila is also PI of the three-year project Between Science and Magic: Witches, Alchemists, and Astrologers in Medieval and Early Modern English (2023-25) funded by the Kone Foundation. 


At the Department of English, Varila teaches BA-level courses in English linguistics and academic writing and speaking and leads a BA thesis seminar focused on linguistic topics. On the MA level, she co-teaches theoretical and methodological courses on philological and linguistic research and supervises MA theses related to her areas of expertise. Together with colleagues from the Department of English and the Department of European and World History, Varila has also twice organised and taught a multidisciplinary introductory course on book history.


Varila's research focuses on late medieval and early modern English text and book production. She is interested in the linguistic, textual, material and visual practices of scribes, printers, and compilers. She approaches this topic from a philological perspective, combining methods from historical discourse linguistics and book studies to study early texts in context.

Varila's PhD dissertation (2016) focuses on a group of three mid-sixteenth-century English scientific manuscripts. In it, she examines scribal practices and patterns of textual transmission in connection to scientific writing, taking into account codicological, palaeographical, textual, and linguistic evidence. Building on her findings regarding the interaction between manuscript and print in the sixteenth century, she has recently undertaken a new project in which she explores transmission of text from print to manuscript in early modern England. She also works as a postdoctoral researcher in the Early Modern Graphic Literacies project (PI Matti Peikola, funded by the Academy of Finland 2021-25), developing a model for classifying early printed graphic devices and investigating the use of graphic devices in early modern medical writing.

Varila has also published on scribal practices (2014), the interplay of textual and visual features (Carroll et al. 2013, Varila et al. 2017, Peikola & Varila 2023) and paratext in early English print (Varila 2018, Varila & Peikola 2019, Varila et al. 2020, Varila 2020). In addition to English materials, Varila has published on early modern manuscripts and printed books held by Turku City Library (Peikola & Varila 2017, 2015) and the Donner Institute at Åbo Akademi (Van Impe & Varila 2016).

Varila is currently a board member of the Finnish Society for Book History (2018-) and was previously a board member of the Finnish Society for the Study of English (2017-20). She also regularly participates in the activities of the local and national doctoral training networks Utuling and Langnet.


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Artikkeli valmiiksi 12 viikossa (2024)

Hiiskuttua: Turun yliopiston humanistisen tiedekunnan verkkolehti
Reunanen Elisa, Varila Mari-Liisa, Mahlamäki Tiina
(Artikkeli ammattilehdessä tai kirjoitus ammatillisessa blogissa (D1))