Upcoming Events

Spring 2020


Rita Felski (University of Virginia) will receive an Honorary Doctorate from the Faculty of Humanities, University of Turku, for her excellent merits in the field of Aesthetics, Literary Studies, Gender Studies, Cultural Studies and Modern and Postmodern Studies. With her outstanding work, Felski has advanced multidisciplinary studies of reading as well as research in cultural theory at the University of Turku. She will take part at the Centenary Ceremonial Conferment of Doctoral Degrees; in conjunction with the event, she will hold a lecture on May 28 at 11 AM.

The Departments of Literature and SELMA are preparing for Rita Felski’s visit by organizing a reading group, in which the participants will get acquainted with Felski’s work and read her books “The Uses of Literature” (2008) and “The Limits of Critique” (2015). The reading group is open to the staff and researchers as well as to doctoral and undergraduate students; the meetings will consist mostly of informal discussions. Students can get study credits for their active participation.

The first meeting is on Tuesday March 3, 4-6 PM at the Meeting Room of the Departments of Literature, 2nd floor of the Artium Building, Sirkkala Campus. The following meetings will be on April 7, May 12 and May 26 (same place, 4-6 PM).

The first meeting will begin with the organizers introducing Rita Felski’s early work, after which there will be a discussion on the Introduction and the Recognition Chapters from “The Uses of Literature”. Both books (“The Uses of Literature” and “The Limits of Critique”) are available in electronic format in the library or online.


5 March, 12–14, Minerva, Jäntere E121 (University of Turku, Kaivokatu 12)

Gender Perspective on Memory and Narrative

Gender and blackness in African Francophone autobiographical literature written by Ken BugulKaiju Harinen

Ken Bugul’s novel, Le Baobab fou, [The Abandoned Baobab. The Autobiography of a Senegalese Woman], focuses on the memories of a young “black” woman and discriminations related to “race”, sexualized gender and the myth of ‘true womanhood’ that the novel’s protagonist experiences in the context of postcolonial Europe. Autobiographical literature serves here as a political tool for healing the stigma of the colonial experience (Mouzet 2015, 161), as announced in the paratext of the novel: The obliterated shall be remembered. Ken Bugul’s life story can also be seen as a cautionary tale (Coly 2010, xix) for other black young women desiring to ‘become white’ and to live in Europe–the Eldorado. In order to do that, the author uses strategic exoticism, performativity, irony and burlesque humour, and storytelling to make visible the apparently invisible intersectional oppression.

Failing in Gender: Narratives of Embodied VulnerabilityLotta Kähkönen

Gender Failure (2014) is a book based on a live performance show by two Canadian artists, Rae Spoon and Ivan Coyote. The book delves into the artists’ memories of and journeys with their failed attempts to fit into gender binary. The artists emphasize storytelling as an art form that enables a transformative space. In this talk, I will discuss how the storytelling in Gender Failure explores embodied vulnerability and works as embodied practice. Failing to approximate “proper” corporeal norms in the spatially and temporally shifting frames of gender binary causes a risk in the artists’ everyday lives. Yet the sense of vulnerability as a differentiating condition is not perceived simply as disabling and negative experience, but as something that can be shared through storytelling, and in so doing, even turned into a possibility.


Kaiju Harinen holds a PhD in Francophone literature. Her doctoral thesis, defended in October 2018 at the University of Turku (Finland), focused on the discrimination related to “race”, gender, sexuality, social class and religion that the protagonists of Calixthe Beyala’s and Ken Bugul’s semiautobiographical novels, young “black” women, experience in the context of postcolonial Europe and West Africa. She is currently working as a part-time teacher at the University of Helsinki and prepares a postdoctoral research project about the intersectional encounters of afropolitanism and storytelling applied in various fictional and feminist texts written by Jo Güstin, Léonora Miano, Minna Salami and Taiye Selasi in French and in English.

Lotta Kähkönen is University Lecturer in Gender Studies at the University of Lapland. She is also a member of a research project studying the implications of the Texas Campus Carry law, conducted at the John Morton Center for North American Studies, University of Turku. Her research interests include gender and embodiment, transgender experiences, trauma narratives, and U.S. gun culture.

8 April, 14–16, Minerva, Litzen E117, (University of Turku, Kaivokatu 12)

Reading Seminar in collaboration with ‘Gender and Textuality Seminar’:

Immersions: Reading with Water

Led by Olga Cielemecka and Anastasia A Khodyreva

The text chosen for this seminar is: Neimanis, A. (2012). “Hydrofeminism: Or, On Becoming a Body of Water.” In H. Gunkel, C. Nigianni, F. Soderback (Eds.), Undutiful Daughters: New Directions in Feminist Thought and Practice, (pp. 85-99). New York: Palgrave Macmillan


28 May 2020, 11–12, JANUS (University of Turku, Kaivokatu 12)

Hooked: Art and AttachmentRita Felski

In this talk, Felski makes a case for ‘attachment’ as a key word for the humanities. The word directs our attention to what carries weight: it has both affective and ethical force. Felski will discuss aesthetic ties of identification and attunement and clarify the relevance of attachment to interpretation in the classroom.

Rita Felski is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English at the University of Virginia and Niels Bohr Professor at the University of Southern Denmark. Her recent books include Uses of Literature (2008), Comparison: Theories, Approaches, Uses (2013), The Limits of Critique (2015) and Critique and Postcritique (2017).   


19–21 February 2020

Educarium (University of Turku, Assistentinkatu 5)

Histories of Death International Symposium

Link to the programme here.

Individual sessions and keynotes are open to all but there is still time to register as a full participant.

For more details and registration see here

3–5 June, 2020

Comics, Migration, Minorities

VENUE: School of History, Culture and Arts Studies at the University of Turku


9–12 June, 2020

IABA World Turku 202
Life-Writing: Imagining the Past, Present and Future


Registration is open with early-bird fee until 29 February. Final registration by 10 May. Follow this link