Heidi Grönstrand (University of Turku) is interested in looking at multilingualism in a historical perspective. By analyzing autobiographical texts, e.g. memoirs and autobiographies by Umayya Abu-Hanna, Susanna Alakoski, Kaj Chydenius, Jörn Donner, Rita Magga-Kumpulainen, Kjell Westö and Jutta Zilliacus, she draws attention to the ways in which language, remembering and forgetting are intertwined into each other. One of the key-concepts is “language biography”. What is characteristics of a language biography and how does it relate to institutional practises, historical events and changes? How do autobiographical texts challenge the dominant language norms?
Ralf Kauranen’s subproject is concerned with multilingualism in contemporary Finnish comics, and especially autobiographical travel narratives. Multilingualism in the comics field comes in many shapes. In addition to code-switching in the comic narratives, multilingualism appears through the paratexts of publications, as for example English translations of Finnish texts often are added to the publication. The more broad publication contexts are also of interest, as the Finnish field of comics has an increasingly transnational outlook, and comics artists need to ponder the question of which languages to work with and use in their publications.
Mika Lietzén has for a long time used multiple languages in his comics. He's interested in how the mixing of languages will affect the reading experience, as well as what kind of an impact it will have on the narrative structures. He's also concerned about how languages will shift when the stories are translated; for instance, if the main language of the book, Finnish, is translated into Swedish, for sale in Sweden. How will this affect the parts that have already been in Swedish in the original book, and how the concept of being a Swedish-speaking Finn in Finland will translate to readers in Sweden? And how will the readers react to multiple languages in one story: is it just confusing, or does it add value? And how many languages are too many, before the reader becomes frustrated.
Zinaida Lindén's position in the culture of Finland has given her a unique opportunity to bridge gaps between language groups and nationalities. In her work as a writer she often uses her own experience of different countries and cultures. She grew up in Leningrad, used to work with various scandinavians, is married to a Swedish speaking Finn and has also lived in Japan. Navigating between different language groups is her everyday life. Lindén contributes to the project with some practical experiences and observations as well as essays in which she reflects on the phenomenon of bilingualism from different viewpoints, on its cultural and pragmatic aspects. In addition, she continues with her work as a prosaist during this period.
Olli Löytty (University of Turku) analyses the transnational and translingual cartography of Hassan Blasim’s texts. Blasim is an Iraqi refugee living in Finland who writes in Arabic. As the possible readers are scattered all around the Arabic speaking world, his first channel to publish has been the Internet. His debut collection of short stories, The Madman of Freedom Square, has been translated to five languages, and the second one, The Iraqi Christ, at least to English and Finnish. Although the reception of Blasim’s texts has been very positive internationally—he was described by The Guardian as “perhaps the greatest writer of Arabic fiction alive”—he is relatively unknown in Finnish literary scene. Löytty asks, how does the domestic and international literary publicity (for example publishing policies, criticism, grants, awards) regulate the circulation of Blasim’s short stories from one language and place to another.
Kukku Melkas (University of Turku) will focus on the award institutions and their way to regulate multilingualism. She will concentrate on the Runeberg-prize and the negotiations and polemic of language policy around the prize by examining the speeches of the panels, press releases and other written documents.
Julia Tidigs (Åbo Akademi University) investigates the monolingual paradigm and the tolerance towards literary multilingualism in the contemporary Finland-Swedish literary field. Through analysis of debates about the limits of Finland-Swedish literary language and the reception of multilingual texts or works by multilingual writers, Tidigs explores not only how norms of linguistic homo- and heterogeneity have affected the understanding of multilingual literature, but also how multilingual literature has been put to use in developing these linguistic norms.