Students in field

Dr. Virtanen to speak at symposium at Library of Congress

October 16, 2017

Finlandia University Assistant Professor of Finnish and Nordic Studies Dr. Hilary Virtanen is going to be one of three panelists Thursday at the Library of Congress for a symposium celebrating the history and future of the Finnish language.

Dr. Hilary Virtanen

Dr. Hilary Virtanen

“It is an honor to take part in this symposium and to use research and experiences with Upper Midwestern Finnish in celebration of Finland’s centennial,” Dr. Virtanen said. “While it is true that many aspects of Finnish language have disappeared since the time of mass immigration, there are some vocabulary sets that are still quite strong, and circumstances in which Finnish still lingers, even when not in active use. My paper will represent this current state in the language.”

The event is being hosted by the Library of Congress European Division together with the Embassy of Finland as part of the centennial celebration of Finland’s independence. Opening remarks will be made by Ambassador of Finland Kirsti Kauppi. The other panelists include Aili Flint from Columbia University and Daniel Karvonen from the University of Minnesota.

About Dr. Hilary Virtanen

In addition to her role at FinnU, Dr. Virtanen is an Honorary Fellow at the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she received her Ph.D. in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore. She has published on Finnish American folklore, orality and literacy in folk culture, and on protest-oriented folk music among Finnish American laborers. Her interest in the Finnish language among heritage communities stems from her experience as a fourth- and fifth-generation Finnish American from Toivola, Michigan, an area in which the elder generations still use aspects of Finnish dialects from several regions in everyday life.

Dr. Virtanen’s presentation is titled “My Grandma Used to Say That: Finnish as a Heritage Language in the Upper Midwest.” The presentation will be made available in podcast form on the Library of Congress website after its completion, at which time a link will be posted at finlandia.edu/news and shared through Finlandia’s network of social media outlets.

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