Ph.D. Folklore/Scandinavian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2014
MA Scandinavian Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008
MA Folklore, Indiana University-Bloomington, 2008
BA English and Anthropology, Michigan State University, 2003
Summer 2019: By Appointment
Finnish American Culture
Gender in Nordic Society
History and Culture of Finland
Paloheimo Fellows Seminar
Sami History and Culture
Upper Peninsula Folklore
Dr. Hilary-Joy Virtanen is Assistant Professor of Finnish & Nordic Studies at Finlandia University. She is an ethnologist specializing in Nordic and Upper Midwestern (USA) cultural practices, including festivals, traditional arts, oral genres, music, folk dance, ethnic and national dress, and heritage language maintenance. Historical moments that interest her include 19th century national romanticism, particularly in Finland, as well as 1905-1920, a period when American workers culture developed certain hallmarks during intense labor unrest and the entrance of the United States into World War I. This historical period is reflected in the present in existent labor music and laborlore (especially songs associated with the Industrial Workers of the World) and through monuments and museums documenting industrial heritage and the lives of workers. Her research in the iron and copper mining regions of the Upper Midwest and the industrial city of Tampere, Finland are related through Finnish American migration and certain similar historical developments in each place.
Areas of Interest / Speciality
Folklore and Cultural Anthropology, digital humanities, Finnish and Nordic ethnicities, American Studies, festivals, Upper Peninsula studies, languages of Finland, epic poetry, mythology, labor lore, folk dance, national dress traditions, oral history, museum studies, audio preservation.
"Gentlemen, when two separate events occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object of inquiry, one must always pay strict attention." - FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, Twin Peaks.
Academic Advisor for Criminal Justice, Finnish & Nordic Studies, and Liberal Studies programs
Faculty Advisor, Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society
American Folklore Society
Association of Critical Heritage Studies
Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study
The Making of Finland: The Time of the Grand Duchy. Special Issue of Journal of Finnish Studies 21(1&2). Helena Halmari, Scott Kaukonen, Hanna Snellman, and Hilary-Joy Virtanen, eds. 2018.
“The Saint Urho Tradition in the USA.” In Saint Urho/Pyhä Urho: From Fakelore to Folklore. Anne Heimo, Tuomas Hovi, and Maria Vasenkari, eds. Turku, Finland: University of Turku. 2012.
Finnish-American Songs and Tunes, from Mines, Lumber Camps, and Workers' Halls. Special Issue of the Journal of Finnish Studies 14(1). James P. Leary and Hilary Joy Virtanen, guest editors. 2010.
“What Official History Forgets Lives on in Song: On a Finnish-American Parody of `It's a Long Way to Tipperary.'” Journal of Finnish Studies 14(1). 2010.
“Literary Performance of Folkloric Knowledge: The Works of Bernhard Hillila and Jingo Vachon.” Journal of Finnish Studies 11(2). 2007.
“Take the Power Back: Tradition, Cultural Memory and Heikki Lunta.” Journal of Finnish Studies 11(1). 2007.
Awards & Recognitions
2019 Finlandia University Board of Trustees Distinguished Faculty Award.
2017 to present University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures Honorary Fellow.
2016 Finlandia University Five Year Service Award.
2014 Keweenaw Peninsula Chamber of Commerce Spark Plug Awards Project of the Year. (Awarded to the Board of Directors of FinnFest USA 2013).
2010 American Folklore Society Nordic-Baltic Section Boreal Prize for Best Graduate Student Published Article.
2006 Indiana University Council for Advancing Student Leadership Certificate of Recognition.
"Social Sciences Now: Adventures in Ethnography with the Paloheimo Fellows," Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study. 2019.
"Let the Blood Roses Grow: Workers' Sentiments in the Music of Oren Tikkanen," Folklore and the Wisconsin Idea Conference. 2018.
"Gossip, Memes, Memorates, and Ballads: Narrating the Legend of a Local Outlaw," American Folklore Society. 2017.
"An American Laestadian in Postwar Finland," FinnFest USA 2017.
"The Emerging Legend of John Wesley Saatio, Copper Country Outlaw," Sonderegger Symposium for Upper Peninsula Studies. 2016.
“On the Repertoire of Kay Seppälä, Folk Dancer and Kantele Player,” Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study. 2016
“An Ancient Finnish Midsummer Ritual on the Shores of Lake Superior: Juhannus in Toivola,” Sonderegger Symposium for Upper Peninsula Studies. 2015
"Gogebic Range Finns: From Past to Present,” presented at UP History Conference, Historical Society of Michigan. 2015
“Folklore, Resistance, and Why the Humanities Matter,” Suomi College of Arts and Sciences Colloquium Series, Finlandia University. 2015
“A Folklorist's Dream: Collecting Folk Culture among Copper Country Finns,” Keweenaw National Historical Park Fourth Thursday in History Lecture Series. 2014
“From Finland to Fulton to the Library of Congress: The Alan Lomax Recordings of Gusti Similä,” presented in connection with Michigan's Folk Song Legacy: Grand Discoveries from the Great Depression exhibition, Finlandia University. 2014
“Alternative Models for the First Year Seminar,” Yes We Must Coalition National Conference. 2014
“Heikinpäivä in Hancock: Commemoration, Creativity, and Community,” FinnForum X. 2014
“Pienet Punaiset Laulukirjat: Finnish-American IWW Songs,” Laborlore/ Labor and Working Class History Association joint meeting. 2009
“Pienet Punaiset Laulukirjat: Finnish-American IWW Songs,” Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study Annual Meeting. 2009
“Issues of Authenticity in Finnish Ethnic Dress: The Case of North American Finns,” Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study meeting. 2007
“Finnish American Folk Heroes (and the Women Who Love Them),” American Folklore Society Annual Meeting. 2006
“For Business or Pleasure: The Politics of Berry Picking in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula,” American Folklore Society Annual Meeting. 2005
"Language" in panel, "What it Means to be Finnish American," FinnGrandFest. 2005
"Not Just Talking about the Weather: Tradition, Social Change, and Heikki Lunta," FinnGrandFest. 2005
Building the Bonfire: https://vimeo.com/marcuscederstrom/2018juhannusbonfire
This is a video created by members of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures 2018 Folklore Field School, which took place in the Copper Country and for which I was the fieldwork instructional designer. My UW colleagues Anna Rue, Nate Gibson, and Marcus Cederstrom brought a team of students and fellow folklorists for five days of documentation of Finnish American traditional arts practiced up here, including a documentation of the Juhannus Midsummer festival in my hometown of Toivola. This brief film documents our service component of the program, in which we assisted members of the Toivola Volunteer Fire Department in building the massive wooden structure known as the kokko, or bonfire, which was burnt down the next evening.
Paloheimo Fellows Program Blog: paloheimofellowsprogram.wordpress.com
This is the blog for the Paloheimo Fellows Program, a competitive study abroad program that I direct and teach, which brings 3-4 students with me to Finland each year to conduct qualitative field research in Finnish culture and society.
Heikki Lunta Internet Exhibit: http://csumc.wisc.edu/exhibit/HeikkiLunta/index.htm
This internet exhibit, hosted on the website of the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is based on my 2006 Masters thesis at Indiana University on the Copper Country's own Finnish American Snow God.