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Minna Maijala

Minna Maarit Maijala
Born May 18, 1975, Raahe.

Master of Arts, 2001, Doctor of Philosophy (Finnish Literature), University of Helsinki

Researcher, non-fiction author
Researcher, 2007-2008, Edith – critical editions unit, Finnish Literature Society
Co-ordinator, 2008-2010, National School for Literary Research, University of Helsinki

Publications, research projects and other academic activities
Research interests: the life and works of Minna Canth, realist fiction from the 1880s and 1890s, emotions and passions in literature, biography, textual criticism, manuscripts and the writing process.

Awards and special achievements
Shortlisted for the Tieto Finlandia prize for non-fiction, 2014
Winner of the Blogistanian Tieto prize for non-fiction blogs, 2014

Photo: Anni Kössi, Otava
Written by Minna Maijala (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by John Calton

My best moments at the University of Helsinki

I had the opportunity to teach immediately after I was accepted as a postgraduate student at the university, and teaching was an important part of my life for nearly the entire time I was working on my dissertation. I taught both history of literature and an introductory course on theory and also gave individual study guidance to students as an assistant. Although teaching may have slowed down my work on the actual doctoral dissertation, which took seven years, teaching has presented many challenges and developed me in a way that I feel is crucial.

Students never let you get away with anything, and in order to get them really interested in a subject, you have to communicate with them. This has been extremely rewarding and it has prepared me for the work I do now, which requires a range of public presentations. I hope that at some point in the future my work will take me back into teaching again; it would be very interesting and challenging.

Research and non-fiction writing often get separated into two completely different spheres, but in my opinion the difference is not necessarily always that great. If you are passionate about new knowledge and how to find it, a non-fiction book written for a wider audience can also be good research. Research cannot afford to stay in an ivory tower, anyway, especially since publicizing research is getting more and more difficult.

The main point in both research and non-fiction writing, as I see it, is to write well. Work on my doctoral dissertation was above all a channel of self-expression and writing practice. I was very lucky to have Pirjo Lyytikäinen as my supervisor, because she has a very sharp eye for language and style and challenged me to write well. Clarity both in thinking and in writing are essentially one and the same, and to learn the writer’s craft is the best thing to have come out of my time at the University of Helsinki.

Minna Maijala with her son Vili at the Kuopio University after a presentation in 2011. Photo: Ilkka Välimäki.​
Minna Maijala with her son Vili at the Kuopio University after a presentation in 2011. Photo: Ilkka Välimäki.​
Photo: Ilkka Välimäki.​
Photo: Ilkka Välimäki.​


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