Research at the Department of Finnish Literature

The research practiced at the Department of Finnish Literature is characterised by multidisciplinarity, and literature as an art form is a conceptualised contextual phenomenon. 

The research is focused on feminist literary criticism, transnationality, relations between nature and culture, digital culture, poetry, and children’s and young adult’s literature, and the research material consists of  literature written in Finnish and Swedish from the 19th century up to the present day. 

Typical research questions include the following:

  • How has literature effected our images of gender?
  • How does literature break down the borders of nationality?
  • How does literature  represent the relations between human and non-human?
  • In what ways can the materiality of languages be read in poetry?
  • How is the genre of children’s literature gendered?

Research projects

Messy Worlds

The research project Messy Worlds focuses on the nature-cultural and semiotic-material nature of literature. The objective is to find methodologies of reading that overthrow the human from his/her privileged position as agent in creating the world, and to create ways of reading that make room for the non-humans as well.  We are facing enormous problems with, for example, climate change and the extinction of numerous species, and one reason for these problems is that in the canonical Western tradition, nature and culture are bifurcated. The objective of the project is to withdraw from this kind of dualisms and to analyse literature as a messy phenomenon where nature and culture, and material and semiotic elements become entangled. The researchers in the project are Kaisa Kurikka, Miikka Laihinen, Karoliina Lummaa, Elsi Hyttinen, Elli Lehikoinen, Henna-Riikka Rumbin and Lea Rojola.

Financier: Kone Foundation, 2016–2018

More information: Lea Rojola

> Home page (in Finnish)

Comics and Migration: Belonging, Narration, Activism

In this project, researchers and comics artists work together to examine how comics represent migration. The project group consists of Warda Ahmed, Ralf Kauranen, Olli Löytty, Aura Nikkilä, Hannele Richert, Johanna Rojola and Anna Vuorinne.  The project reflects on how stories about migration are told in, for example, autobiographical and documentary comics, or how comics can be adapted in anti-racist activism and activism concerning migration and refugees. What kinds of possibilities are there for comics to work as a platform for the social and political inclusion of different people? The project “Comics and migration” produces both research and comics. The main results will be presented in an academic collection of articles in English, a Finnish-language textbook for general upper secondary education, as well as two doctoral dissertations and a number of comics.

Financier: Kone Foundation, 2018–2020

More Information: Ralf Kauranen

> Home page (in Finnish)

Texts on the Move: Reception of Women's Writing in Finland and Russia 1840–2020

The project aims at mapping the reception of Russian women writers in Finland as well as the reception of Finland’s women authors in Russia. The researchers working in the project are Tintti Klapuri, Kati Launis, Viola Parente-Čapková, Saara Ratilainen, Arja Rosenholm, Irina Savkina, Marja Sorvari, and Jasmine Westerlund.  Reception is understood broadly, and hence it highlights a wide range of literary, cultural and social networks. The project connects to digital research methods as well as to research on digital media, methods and topics that have been developing in the field of gender studies over the last decades. “Texts on the Move” creates new ways of collaboration between transnational research in literature and cultural history, and traditional and digital humanities. 

Financier: Emil Aaltonen Foundation, 2018–2021

More information: Viola Parente-Čapková

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Turning Points in Finnish Literature

The aim of the project is to look at some central turning points in Finnish literature from a different perspective. The project is initiated by considering the so-called Modern Breakthrough in the 1880s and continued by discussing the queer figures of the 1910s in the years before the independence and the Civil War. The years after the Second World War saw an emphasis on the language in the Finnish prose, and this phenomenon is analysed and interpreted by so-called contrapunctual reading. The last turning point is the contemporary experimental poetry which escapes the Free Verse established by the modernist writers. The researchers in the project are Elsi Hyttinen, Päivi Lappalainen, Miikka Laihinen, and Maarit Soukka.

Financier: University of Turku, 2019–2021

More information: Päivi Lappalainen

Recent publications

Ilmastonmuutos ja kirjallisuuden aika (2018)

Vähäisiä lisiä: Kirjoituksia kulttuurista, tutkimuksesta ja kulttuuriperinnöstä
Riitta Jytilä
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