Researchers

Riikka Rossi

Project leader Riikka Rossi is Professor of Finnish Literature at the University of Helsinki, Finland. Her research centers on affective aspects of literary naturalism and primitivism, and the study of literature and emotions. She has published extensively on Nordic and French naturalism, Finnish literature and negative emotions. She has authored Le naturalisme finlandais. Une conception entropique du quotidien (2007), and co-edited several volumes, e.g. Nostalgia (2007), Rethinking Mimesis (2012), Re-reading Zola and Worldwide Naturalism (2013) and Nordic Literature of Decadence(2019).

Her new book Alkukantaisuus ja tunteet. Primitivismi 1900-alun suomalaisessa kirjallisuudessa (SKS 2020; The Primitive and Emotions. Primitivism in early nineteenth-century Finnish literature) explores manifestations of literary primitivism in Finnish novel and revisits the concept of literary primitivism by analysing emotions and feelings in primitivist literature, such as anger, shame, fear, love, ecstasy and disgust. In the Arctic hysteria project she extends the study of primitivism to imaginations of the North and its affective aspects, focusing on spiritual emotions and the feeling of being moved in particular.

Antti Ahmala

Antti Ahmala is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, where he received his PhD in Finnish literature in 2016. His doctoral dissertation examines the themes of authenticity and alienation in the early symbolist-decadent works of Joel Lehtonen (1881–1934) in relation to discourses of the fin de siècle and particularly Nietzschean thinking. Based upon the study, Ahmala’s current postdoctoral research project explores the continuation and transformation of antimodern thought and sensibility in later literature with a focus on Finnish contemporary essayists. In present-day late modern culture, antimodernism in its various manifestations is tied to ecological thought, religious movements, particular forms of cultural and political conservatism, as well as right-wing radicalism and “masculinism”. In the Arctic Hysteria project, Ahmala focuses on emotions and feelings associated with antimodernism in the northern context.

Charlotte Coutu

Charlotte Coutu is a doctoral student in literary studies at Tampere University and Université du Québec à Montréal. Her work is conducted in a cotutelle between the two universities, and is supervised by Daniel Chartier, Saija Isomaa and Riikka Rossi.

Her doctoral research draws on arctic hysteria to question imaginaries of space and gender in the work of Greenlandic-Danish visual artist Pia Arke (1958-2007) and Finnish writer Rosa Liksom (1958-). Influenced by art historian Georges Didi-Huberman’s work on hysteria, her research looks at the mise en scène of arctic hysteria, and studies how symptoms associated with it – such as screaming, convulsions, erratic behaviour – can be transposed to visual and textual representations. It looks at emotions in terms of absence and excess, and considers disruption as a drawing force in the studied body of work.

Aside from her work in the Arctic Hysteria project, she is also a project researcher in the Mediated Arctic Geographies project (Academy of Finland 2019-2023).

Charlotte is affiliated with the International Laboratory for Research on Images of the North, Winter and the Arctic and is a member of the CRILCQ – Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur la littérature et la culture québécoises. Her doctoral research is founded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada).

Saija Isomaa

Saija Isomaa works as a Senior Lecturer of Finnish literature at Tampere University and is Docent (Adjunct Professor) of Finnish Literature at the University of Helsinki. She is specialised in genre theory, genre studies and historical poetics. She has published widely on genre theory, history of Finnish literature and genres and emotions, as well as dystopian fiction in contemporary literature. She has co-edited several volumes, including  Rethinking Mimesis (2012), Imagining Spaces and Places (2013), Values of Literature(2015) and On Troubled Futures (forthcoming 2020). In the current project, she explores extreme and negative emotions in Finnish dystopian fiction that imagines undesirable futures for the Arctic and the North more generally.

Sarianna Kankkunen

Sarianna Kankkunen is a doctoral candidate in the University of Helsinki, working on her dissertation”Harassing Habitats. Experienced Space in Contemporary Finnish Fiction, A Study of Maarit Verronen”. Her research interests lie in the intersection of spatial studies, literary theory, and environmental humanities, including ecocriticism. Kankkunen has published articles on environmental responsibility in travel literature and dystopian spaces as well as literary depictions of the Helsinki archipelago.

Within the Arctic hysteria project, Kankkunen examines representations of extreme conditions and environments and their intertwining with affects and emotions, placing special emphasis on the culturally shared notions of perseverance, persistence and grit (often referred to as sisu) and the complex set of emotions that are linked to them. Moreover, the project discusses the wilderness tropes of contemporary Finnish fiction and charts their relation to socio-psychological phenomena such as the sense of belonging, the sense of communality, and individualism.

Kankkunen is a member of the European PhDnet for Literary and Cultural Studies (4th cycle) and writes a co-supervised thesis between the University of Helsinki and Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Germany.

Elise Nykänen

Dr. Elise Nykänen works as a Post-doctoral Researcher in Finnish Literature at the University of Helsinki. Her research interests lie in area of literature and emotions, literary modernisms, dialogue, and fictional mind presentation, including the presentation of the unconscious in fiction. She has published several articles on these topics. Nykänen’s monograph Mysterious Minds. Making Private and Collective Consciousness in Marja-Liisa Vartio’s Novels (SKS, 2017), focuses on the individual and social dimensions of fictional mind presentation in the works of Vartio (1924–1966), one of the renowned innovators of Finnish Post-War Modernism. She has also studied the works of such authors as Marko Tapio and Rosa Liksom.

Nykänen is currently writing a book on the narration of existential feelings in the Finnish outsider fiction of the 1950’s and its emotional effects on readers. Besides negative feelings such as anxiety, alienation, disgust, shame, and guilt, she examines the position of an outsider from the perspective of positive experiences of being in the world: feelings of ecstatic joy, meaningfulness, belonging, and authenticity. In the Arctic Hysteria project, Nykänen’s main research topics include the study of solitude, isolation, and loneliness as spatially experienced mentalities of the North as well as diverse extremities and transgressions related to gender, class, and ethnicity in the imaginaries of the Arctic.