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Iris Schwanck

Iris Miette Schwanck
Born February 2, 1950, Geneva

MA 1977 (Romance Philology), University of Jyväskylä
PhD 1994 (Romance Philology), University of Helsinki
Thesis La petite aventure dont le lecteur se souvient peut-être. Analyse linguistique des instrusions du narrateur dans huit romans (‘The little adventure which the reader may remember: A linguistic analysis of narrator intrusions in eight novels’)

Director of the Finnish Literature Exchange (FILI), Finnish Literature Society, 2001–2015
Director of the Finnish Institute in France 1999–2001
Assistant director of the Centre for International Mobility (CIMO) 1995–1999
Coordinator of international affairs at the University of Helsinki 1990–1995
Assistant in Romance Philology at the University of Helsinki and the University of Jyväskylä 1981–1990
Study trips to Uppsala (The Nordic Africa Institute), Paris (Paris West University Nanterre La Défense) and Brussels (Université libre de Bruxelles)
Publications: articles on 19th century French literature, French-African literature, the internationalization of universities and the exportation of Finnish literature.

Prizes and Special Achievements
President and member of the board at the European Association for International Education (EAIE) 1998–1999
Chair of the Lahti International Writers’ Reunion 2001
Alumnus of the University of Jyväskylä 2002
Comic of the Year award 2008
Comic special recognition award 2014
Knight in the Legion of Honour 2010
Knight of the White Rose of Finland 2005
High commissioner of the Finnish Cultural Exchange Season in France 2005–2008
Head coordinator of the Nordic theme project in the Paris Book Fair 2011
Project Director of Finland. Cool. at the 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair 2011–2014
Chair of the Finlandia Prize jury 2015

Photo: Heli Sorjonen
Written by Iris Schwanck (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by
Joe McVeigh

My best memories from the University of Helsinki

I finished my MA and licentiate at the University of Jyväskylä and then worked there for a few years in the Romance Philology Department. In the 1980s it was not very common to transfer from other universities to the University of Helsinki. So it was just overwhelming the first time I passed through the revolving doors of Porthania into the beautiful lobby and then climbed the stairs to my office in the Romance Philology Department on the third floor. We soon set up a text linguistics group with graduate students from different universities and this served as an inspiring support in all of our studies. The collegial life at the department was an example of our future work.

In 1990 I moved to the central administration in the main building, in an office next to the chancellor’s. It was great to work in the internationalization activities of the new term. Student and teacher exchange programmes, as well as university cooperation ones began in earnest at that time and in a very short time they have changed the way we view ourselves as a members of the international community.

Students passing through the revolving doors of Porthania. Photo by Mika Federley.​
Students passing through the revolving doors of Porthania. Photo by Mika Federley.​


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