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Pirjo Hiidenmaa

Pirjo Anneli Hiidenmaa
Born February 6, 1959, Anttola.

MA 1986 and PhD 1995 (Finnish language), University of Helsinki

Professor of Non-fiction Studies and Non-fiction Writing, University of Helsinki 1.1.2015-

Previously involved in much research, teaching and specialist work (the Institute for the Languages of Finland,  the Academy of Finland and the University of Helsinki). She has also worked as the Director of the Open University of the University of Helsinki and the Palmenia Centre for Continuing Education. Hiidenmaa was Chair of the Finnish Association of Non-fiction Writers (2003-11) and has been President of the European Writers’ Council since 2009.

Publications, research projects and other academic involvement
Research areas: Non-fiction, communicating science, status of non-fiction writing in communication flows, research in text and discourse, textual pragmatics and context analysis

Awards and special achievements:
The Finnish Literature Society Doctoral Dissertation Award in 1995

Photo: Linda Lappalainen
Written by Pirjo Hiidenmaa and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.)
Translated by Kaisla Kajava. Revised by John Calton.

Non-fiction books and science – time to take the plunge

If asked to name their favourite books and authors or formative reading experiences, Finns will probably reel off a list of fiction writers and works of fiction.

As the conversation develops, many people begin to recall their schoolbooks and what they were for. Next up come dictionaries, maps and reference works. And these bring to mind all manner of biographies, history books, essay collections, research publications or general works of non-fiction. And what about digests of current affairs or polemical writings? Or the vast number of cookery books, craft and hobby books, dog-training manuals, and so on? Of course they are just fine for those who do as instructed by the texts, but they can be just as valid for those who’d rather just browse and plan.

Non-fiction tends to be so practically oriented or tied to certain activities that its impact on society often goes unnoticed. However, it plays a crucial part in the maintenance and development of so many important aspects of social and cultural life.

Research into non-fiction writing focuses on different ways and styles of presenting information, bringing out the diversity of writing: collaborative writing, editing work and the role of editorial staff and the collaboration between book cover designers, illustrators, photojournalists, terminologists, translators and many other professionals. Digital publications involves yet more of these professionals. And researching these publications also requires collaboration between various disciplines.

Non-fiction is important for the development of young people’s literacy and the joy of reading, since anyone can find something that interests them. The Finnish Association of Non-fiction Writers, working in partnership with the Lauri Jäntti Foundation, grants an annual scholarship to active young readers of non-fiction. Find out more here.

Photo: Linda Lappalainen​​
Photo: Linda Lappalainen​​


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