The Textualization of Oral Tradition and its Modern Contextualization in Finland

Project: The Textualization of Oral Tradition and its Modern Contextualization in Finland
Funded by: Academy of Finland
Period: 2006-2009
Researcher in charge: Professor Pertti Anttonen

The project aims at advancing the study of oral tradition by taking up for scrutiny the processes of textualizing orality and oral traditions, on the one hand, and the processes in which such textualizations relate to and contextualize with the modern meanings given to oral traditions, on the other. Out of the many contexts for making meaning with representations of oral tradition, the project places special importance on the role and impact of nation-building and nationalism. Thus, the project aims at contributing to the international debate on the construction of nationhood and the politics of time and tradition by dealing with the textual production of oral poetry and epic folklore as nationalizing discourse. For this purpose, the project will take up for scrutiny two essentially important and inter-related topics, the textualization of Finnish-language oral tradition and the making of the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala


Textualization is used in the project as a term that denotes the practices and processes of representing orality in written form. It thus refers to the ways in which oral performances and orally expressed utterances are transformed into literary representations of orality. The key idea here is the act of representation. In practical terms, the act of representation consists of various sorts of editorial decisions and selections, which concern both the intended use of the edited materials and the textualization practices by which the edited materials are made to reflect and correspond to the oral character of the original performances and presentations.


The project comprises of the following studies:

Pertti Anttonen: An Ethnopoetic Research on West-Ingrian Wedding Rituals, Stretching from the Abolishment of Serfdom to the Russian Revolution

Kati Heinonen: Kalevala-Metric Poetry in Soikkola and Hevaa at the Beginning of the 20th Century: The Interaction of Form and Meaning in Izhorian Traditional Singing

Jouni Hyvönen: The Development of Elias Lönnrot's Textualizing Strategies in the Old Kalevala Charm Episodes

Niina Hämäläinen: Family and Emotions in the Lyric of the Kalevala. A Study of Aino and Kullervo.

Pekka Tolonen: Valdesius from Lyon - Stories of Origins and Stories of Conversion