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Pirjo Lyytikäinen

Pirjo Riitta Lyytikäinen
Born October 10, 1953 Helsinki

Master of Philosophy 1986 and Doctor of Philosophy 1992 (Finnish Literature), University of Helsinki; Professor of Finnish Literature 1998- (University of Helsinki); Researcher, University of Helsinki 1987-90 (Kone Foundation grantholder), Assistant 1990-93 (University of Helsinki), Senior Researcher 1994-98 (Academy of Finland)

Publications, research projects and other academic activities

Research interests:  Early modernist periods in Finnish literature, concentrating on turn of the century symbolism and decadence through to the modernism of the 1930s; international  influences on Finnish literature; literary genres and issues of allegory; allegorical nature fantasies, from Alexis Kivi’s romance to contemporary fiction and their relationship to international literary traditions; recent research concerns: literature and emotions.

Prize for non-fiction, Finnish Association of Non-fiction Writers 2014.

Written by Pirjo Lyytikäinen
Translated by John Calton, Kaisla Kajava and Johanna Spoof. Revised by John Calton

Golden moments at the University of Helsinki

One of the highlights of my career has been the seminar organised by promising young scholars in honour of my 60th birthday, scholars whose doctoral advisor I had been. That is one of the most rewarding aspects of the professorial role–to be able to share in the future of your subject and university by advising young talent, thanks to whom the scope of the subject will broaden to meet the new challenges on the horizon. Receiving a wonderful academic anthology compiled by students and colleagues at a ceremony and the simultaneous publication of my own monograph, which concluded a long period of work, feels like the best reward for your efforts.

As for the workaday aspects, the best moments at the University are guest lectures and conferences, which I have attended or organised, inviting many leading scholars from around the world. These events have given me a chance to get to know and to make great friends with kindred spirits from other countries. At this point, however, I might mention the most surprising duty I have had and which I got myself into half by accident. It was the biggest mass event that I have had to preside over. The biggest lecture room in Porthania was full to bursting and the lecture was relayed on video to the next room, also completely full, when the philosopher Jacques Derrida visited Finland for the first and only time, just a few years before his death. Afterwards Derrida and I had quite a laugh about how it came to be that a professor of Finnish literature had both invited him and then introduced him.

From the left: Merja Polvinen, Riikka Rossi, Sari Kivistö, Pirjo Lyytikäinen, Saija Isomaa ja Sanna Nyqvist. Photo: Petri Lyytikäinen.​​


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