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Elina Suomela-Härmä

Born 30 November 1946  Helsinki

Master of Arts, 1970, Licentiate of Philosophy, 1973 and Doctor of Philosophy, 1981 (University of Helsinki)

Acting Lecturer and acting Assistant in Romance Philology, 1972–81, University of Helsinki
Assistant, 1981–86, Docent, 1984–98; lecturer, 1987–92, Professor of Italian Philology, 1998–2014, University of Helsinki
Junior Researcher, Academy of Finland, 1985–87 and Researcher, 2006–07
Associate Professor and Professor of French, 1992–98, University of Tampere
Visiting Associate Professor of Finnish Language and Culture, 1988–91, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris III
Associate Professor of Medieval French Literature and Language, 1994–96, Université Paris Diderot

Publications, research projects and other academic activities

Research interests: Medieval French literature, contemporary Italian pragmatics and literature, Italian-French translation, esp. sixteenth century.

Awards and special achievements:
Chevalier des Palmes Académiques (‘French knight of the order of academic palms’)
Cavaliere dell’Ordine “Stella della Solidarietà italiana”  (‘knight of the order of the star of Italian solidarity’)
Chair, Suomen italianopettajien yhdistys (’Finnish association of Italian teachers’),1980–85
Chair, Helsinki Dante Alighieri Society, 1992–2008
Member, Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, 2002-
Board Member, 2006–12 and Chair, 2011–12, Società Internazionale di Linguistica e Filologia italiana
Board Member, 2009-, Société des Anciens Textes français ('French medieval text society')

Written by Elina Suomela-Härmä
Translated by John Calton

Porthania and I..

Before moving to the Metsätalo building, the Romance Philology department had several study rooms in the Porthania building at its disposal, enough for the professor, the associate professor and an assistant.

Working in the Porthania building had the distinct advantage that the library collection was close at hand, i.e. on the next floor. The collection was distributed between rooms according to subject. In the Antiquitas reading room, scholars of Antiquity would sit, in the Litterarum reading room, literary scholars, in the Romanica reading room (dubbed Romantica by some), scholars of Romance languages, and so on.

The entire library personnel, excellent and unflaggingly courteous, were at our disposal on one and the same floor. Of particular note were the box-like premises occupied by the faithful librarian, which he could barely squeeze into, let alone anyone else. In amongst his pile of books were, on occasion, duplicate copies of Romance titles which a scholar who happened upon them at the appropriate time, might acquire if they had first been stamped ‘withdrawn’.

The Library – every last room!– was accessible around the clock to the chosen few who had been granted the key. After 8 p.m. peace and quiet reigned and on Saturdays you might even get away with leaving heavy dictionaries on the desk, ready for study on the Sunday. There was a dedicated group working in the building ‘after hours’: several linguists at the vanguard of IT developments, including an Anglicist associate professor, totally absorbed with important-looking equipment; a supernumerary professor in charge of two cocker spaniels popping in to check some etymology; and the learned epigraphist was unfailingly present.

In making my way between my study and the Library in an empty building I really had the sense that Porthania was all mine!



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