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Leena-Maija Rossi

Born July 5, 1962, Valkeakoski

PhD (art history and women’s studies) 1999, University of Helsinki
Fulbright scholar, New York University 1990–91
Master of Arts (art history) 1987, University of Helsinki

Executive Director 2011-16, Finnish Cultural Institute in New York
Professor of gender studies 2011, University of Helsinki
Lecturer in gender studies 2010, University of Helsinki
Lecturer in women’s studies, 2003–09 University of Helsinki
Research Doctor 2000–03, Academy of Finland, University of Helsinki
Research Doctor, 1999–2000, Academy of Finland, University of Art and Design Helsinki
Project researcher 1996-98, Academy of Finland, University of Helsinki
Docent 2000, University of Helsinki
Docent 2002, University of Turku

Research fields:
Gender and sexuality, visual culture from art to media culture, multiculturalism and intersectionality

Academic activity

Magister Bonus, the Student Union of the University of Helsinki’s prize for teaching excellence, 2009
The Finnish Art Society’s art book of the year prize 1995

Photo: Kari Sainio
Written by Leena-Maija Rossi (Kaija Hartikainen ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

A career as a scholar and teacher, but via New York

For someone who still thought during her study years (as the child of two teachers) that she would never become a teacher, I am rather excited about teaching. In fact, I love teaching. But my journey to this point has been rather convoluted. In the late 1980s, after receiving my MA in art history, and even while studying, I worked as a culture journalist. I thought I had said goodbye to the University at my graduation ceremony in the spring of 1987 and was writing for the culture section of Helsingin Sanomat on visual art and other cultural topics.

The University did not want to let me go, however, and a few of years after my graduation I was invited to give a course in art history on modernism and contemporary art. I also applied for a PhD and began to picture future studies in the United States. I successfully applied for a Fulbright scholarship, taking me to New York University in 1990-91. Those were revolutionary times, both politically and theoretically—I had the opportunity to become acquainted with the then new queer thinking at its activist roots, and my teachers were the brilliant feminist art historians Maud Lavin, Therese Lichtenstein and the “mother” of performance history, RoseLee Goldberg. Their instruction made me interested in the idea of teaching for the first time and in the development of pedagogical methods.

The Student Union of the University of Helsinki awarded Leena-Maija Rossi with the Magister Bonus (Good Teacher) award in 2009. Photo: Ari Aalto.


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