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Jyrki Nummi

Jyrki Tapio Nummi
Born February 9, 1953, Helsinki

Master of Arts 1980, Licentiate 1985, PhD 1993 (comparative literature and aesthetics), University of Helsinki

Professor of Finnish Literature 2003–, University of Helsinki
Research Fellow, 1999, 2000-03, Academy of Finland
Lecturer in Finnish Language 1989–2003, Helsinki Institute of Technology
Visiting professor of Finnish language and literature 1987–88, Indiana University

Research themes:
(Historical) poetics, the study of the canon, modernism and genre, research on the works of, inter alia, Väinö Linna, Aleksis Kivi and Juhani Aho

Publications, projects and other academic activity

Research and development projects:
Critical Editions of the Works of Aleksis Kivi (2010–)
Suomalainen klassikkokirjasto ( ‘Library of Finnish classics’) – electronic infrastructure (2010–)

Annual award of students of Finnish literature: “Blunder of the year in a lecture,” 2011

Written by  Jyrki Nummi (Kaija Hartikainen, ed.)
Photo: Sasa Tkalcan
Translated by Matthew Billington

What I best remember from the University of Helsinki

Photo: Sasa Tkalcan

Two decades ago, the Porthania reading room was still used as a smoking room, where it was possible to meet an eclectic ‘academic community.’ The geographer Mauno Kosonen was always ready to exchange a friendly word with a young assistant from among his small cigars and piles of paper. I greatly envied my teacher Ossi Ihalainen, who had played the tenor saxophone in Olavi Virta’s band in the 1960s. And if I was lucky I was able to hear Pertti ‘Lande’ Lindfors’s vociferous telephone calls from the lobby about university politics.

As a more senior teacher and researcher, I have noticed how important it is to get to know different researchers and teachers at the University. In all the stages of my now 40 years of study, I remember those teaching personalities whose effect on my studies, career choices and identity as a scholar were by no means small. Only in hindsight have I noticed interesting similarities between my role models. Many of them had not forged their academic career in the discipline that they had enrolled at the University to study.

When I came to the University to study Finnish language, I changed my major after a year or two to comparative literature, and I eventually ended up as a scholar of Finnish literature and later a professor of the subject, although I had never actually taken any courses on the topic as a student. In this convoluted path is concealed, in my view, the whole idea of a university: its task, in addition to academic and artistic studies, is to create the preconditions for personal and intellectual development and maturation. But are similar places to the smoking room to be found anywhere today? Yes indeed.

In the canteen of the National Archives I have come to know numerous teachers, researchers of various disciplines and administrative workers with whom one can practise the best sides of academic conversational culture: making self-assured statements about everything under the sun without a shred of evidence to back them up.

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