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Heta Pyrhönen

Heta Marjatta Pyrhönen
Born December 4, 1960

Master of Arts, 1989, Licentiate of Philosophy, 1994, Doctor of Philosophy, 1998 (Comparative Literature), University of Helsinki

Professor of General Literature, 2000-
Research Assistant, Faculty of Arts, 1985-6
Research Assistant, Academy of Finland, 1986
Assistant, Department of Comparative Literature, Aesthetics and Theatre Studies (1989-90, 1992, 1994)
Doctoral Student, Graduate School for Literature and Textuality, 1995-7
Associate Professor, Comparative Literature, 1997-8

Research Interests
Popular literature, esp. crime fiction, women’s writing and writers, adaptations, narratology and psychoanalytical literary research.

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Photo: Maureen Cassidy
Written by Heta Pyrhönen, (Kaija Hartikainen, ed.)
Translated by John Calton

In Europe, in the United States, and at interminable meetings

Many a summer I have spent time in North America, both in Toronto and in Washington DC, doing research. The library at the University of Toronto and the Library of Congress are wonderful places. It is surprising how much one can get done in a month when there is no teaching or administrative work to do. I enjoy the feeling of freedom and having all the material I need easily available.

I inherited the instructorship of the European graduate school network, European Ph.D.Net: Literary and Cultural Studies, from professor Pirjo Lyytikäinen. It is a joint project involving six universities, which trains doctoral students of literary and cultural studies in accordance with Cotutelle agreements. The programme works in three-year cycles and the instructors and doctoral students get together four times a year in tightly-choreographed work seminars. It is great to get to witness the academic development of the students during these get-togethers. The Hermes summer school network, which is a project involving ten European universities, is enjoyable; on the last occasion we got together for a week in Helsinki to discuss readers and reading and in the summer of 2015 we will be in Prague reflecting on writers and their status.

I have been the co-ordinator for Comparative Literature, head of the Department of Art Studies, member of the Faculty Council of the Faculty of Arts and, since 2014, head of the doctoral programme in Philosophy, Art and Society. All duties come with interesting parts. I was surprised to find that as Director of Department I enjoyed the annual “development discussions”, because they showed how people think of their work in very different ways. In the doctoral programme, the challenge is to bring together conventions of a range of subjects and establish shared goals.

An exhausting aspect of administrative work and university life are the many meetings and constant reforms. There is all manner of evaluation, development and reform, all of which require time spent in meetings, collecting information and writing formalities. Sometimes you get struck with despair: did I study for a long time just to fill in different kinds of forms, to develop my buttock muscles by sitting in meetings and to concoct goal descriptions of various kinds?

Near the Library of Congress, there is an excellent Mexican restaurant, perfect for taking a break.​
Near the Library of Congress, there is an excellent Mexican restaurant, perfect for taking a break.​


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