75369 - Cultural Representation of Women and Gender in Finno-Ugric Contexts

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Modern, Post-Colonial and Comparative Literatures (cod. 0981)

Learning outcomes

The student reaches the basic skills concerning pre-modern and ancient phases of at least three Finno-Ugric languages about their written, literary and non literary, tradition. Particular attention will be focused on traditions previous to and not expressed by written culture, on the heritage of customs and popular beliefs, on myths and fairy tales handed down orally (with reference to gender-bounded cultural contexts)

Course contents

The course will examine the oral tradition of women’s poetry, the medieval female protest ballads and the most important female figures of the Finnish national epic Kalevala (New Kalevala, 1949) composed by Elias Lönnrot based on Karelian and Finnish folk poetry. The analysis will focus on the women of Kalevala, Aino, Louhi, Lemminkäinen's mother and Marjatta from the perspective of feminist literary criticism and gender studies. The course will analyse the Finnish, Finnish-Swedish and Sami women writing and the multiplicity of women’s discourses and cultural representations of women and gender in the Finnish literature from mid-nineteenth-century to the present, and the literature and culture of indigenous Sami women.


Primary sources

Lönnrot, Elias, The Kalevala: An Epic Poem after Oral Tradition by Elias Lönnrot (Oxford World's Classics) 2009.

Lönnrot, Elias, The Kanteletar: Lyrics and Ballads after the Oral Tradition by Elias Lönnrot (The World's Classics), 1992.

Loikala, Paula, Il Nord come destino. Liriche finlandesi moderne al femminile, Bologna, Clueb, 1996.

Aino Kallas: The Wolf’s Bride: A Tale from Estonia

Minna Canth: Hanna

Sofi Oksanen: Le vacche di Stalin (Stalin's Cows)


Bibliography of critical texts

Selected articles from “On the terms of northern woman : articles written by women researchers in Finland, Norway, Russia, Samiland and Sweden”:

Vuokko Hirvonen: The Sami woman: what she writes and what is written about her

Sinikka Tuohimaa: The forgotten women writers of northern Finland: from Lappish romance to daily gloom.

Nina Työlahti: Women in the attic: or some attempts to define a northern sensibility.


Kukku Melkas: A struggle for knowledge: the historical novel and the production of knowledge - Gender and Genre in Aino Kallas’s “Eros the Slayer” Trilogy, in “Women's Voices: Female Authors and Feminist Criticism in the Finnish Literary Tradition”, eds. Päivi Lappalainen and Lea Rojola, Finnish Literature Society, 2006.


Students not attend ending the classes must contact the lecturer during her office hours, or via e-mail before the end of the course.

Teaching methods

Lessons. Students not attend ending the classes must contact the lecturer during her office hours, or via e-mail before the end of the course.

Assessment methods

The test will be structured on the basis of the topics covered in the lectures and texts mentioned in the bibliography. It consists of an oral test aimed at assessing the descriptive knowledge of the individual topics covered during the course. A wide and thorough knowledge of the historical, cultural and literary period, capabilities of synthesis and mastery of expression will be evaluated as excellent, while a more mechanical and/or mnemonic capacity of synthesis, non-articulated analysis skills and correct but not always appropriate language use will be evaluated as positive but not with a high grade. A superficial knowledge and understanding of the material, a scarce analytical and expressive ability that is not always appropriate will be rewarded with a pass mark or just above a pass mark. Gaps in knowledge, failure in analysis and non-appropriate language will be negatively evaluated.

Teaching tools

Images, videos, texts and slides.

Office hours

See the website of Sanna Maria Martin


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This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.