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Mäkelä, Maria

Maria Mäkelä

Yliopistonlehtori, dosentti

Vastuuoppialat ja -alueet

Yleinen kirjallisuustiede

sähköposti: sähköpostiosoitehaku
huone: Pinni B5041
puhelin: +358 40 8325635


Kertomuksen teoria, narratologia, tajunnankuvaus, realismi kirjallisuudessa ja mediassa, romanssi ja uskottomuus kirjallisuudessa ja mediassa

Tutkimustoiminta (SoleCRIS)


Maria Mäkelä (PhD, Docent) is University Lecturer in Comparative Literature and Director of Narrare: Centre for Interdisciplinary Narrative Studies at the University of Tampere. Currently she is running two research projects, Voice as Experience: Life-Storying in Contemporary Media (postdoctoral project funded by the Academy of Finland 2014-2018) and Dangers of Narrative: Contemporary Story-Critical Narratology (a group of 6 researchers, funding from the Kone Foundation 2017-2018). She was Visiting Professor at Aarhus University’s Centre for Fictionality Studies in 2014 and she is a founding member of the Unnatural Narratology research group. In 2017, she is the Second Vice-President of the International Society for the Study of Narrative (ISSN). She is co-editor of Narrative, Interrupted (de Gruyter, 2012) and Narrative Theory, Literature, and New Media (Routledge, 2015), and she has published on consciousness representation, voice and realism across media, the literary tradition of adultery, authorial ethos, and the methodological exchange between classical, postclassical, unnatural, and cognitive narratology.


Post-doctoral researcher, Academy of Finland, 1 Sep 2014 - 30 June 2018

Voice as Experience. Life-Storying in Contemporary Media

Social media, narrative journalism, and television confessionals flaunt the expressive voice, and this voice stands in for personal experience. Culturally prevalent modes for life-storying are a mix of sentimentality, authority and privacy. These contemporary forms of life-storying have predecessors and parallels in literary prose fiction. The urgent need to explore the anatomy of expressive voice in today’s media practices can be met with the help of literary narratology. However, text-analytical methods must be augmented with methods for the analysis of voice and narrative in social sciences. We need a rigorous analysis of the experiential voices culturally available to us in order to understand societal change. What are the culturally available modes of narration for sharing our experience? How experiential, representative or authoritative is the mediated voice of the individual? What counts as narrative, or what is tellable in today’s mediated narrative environments?

The corpus of study ranges from Facebook updates, viral stories and on-line discussion forums to emotional interviews and confessionals in TV journalism and reality TV. These contemporary modes of life-storying and expressivity are juxtaposed with conventional literary means for mediating experientiality such as third person consciousness representation, dramatic monologue and simultaneous narration.


Project leader, Kone Foundation, 1 Jan 2017 – 31 Dec 2018

Dangers of Narrative: Contemporary Story-Critical Narratology

Narrative is a fundamental human strategy for making sense of the world. “Narratives are everywhere” was once the triumphant slogan of narrative scholars, but now we are starting to realize that this might in fact be a problem.

Narrative has a unique capacity to capture and convey human experience – what it feels like to be this particular person living through these particular events. Cognitive narratologists claim that engaging with narratives enhances our mind-reading ability, or cognitive empathy, that plays a crucial role in social interaction and moral development. It is no wonder, then, that narrative is being touted as the miracle cure for a wide variety of individual and social ills. Yet narrative may just as well be put to uses that are dubious if not dangerous. The widespread, uncritical use of narratives of personal experience in journalism and social media may have large-scale consequences that were neither anticipated nor intended. Experientiality may come at the cost of informativeness, and narrative form as such tends to complicate the distinction between fact and fiction. Self-fashioning through cultural narratives adopted from self-help literature is not without its risks either. And while narratives are ideally suited for conveying human experiences, they may simplify and misrepresent, or simply fail to depict, complex material processes such as climate change.

“Dangers of Narrative” is a two-year research project that takes a critical look at idealistic, sweeping claims about the psychological, social, and political benefits of narratives and narrative literature. Instead of offering such instrumental arguments for literature, we draw on the rich tradition of literary narratology to add analytical precision to the scholarly and popular debate on narrativity. Instead of telling people why they should read fiction, we investigate how it should be read. We are committed to educating Finnish professionals – journalists, politicians, teachers, doctors, PR specialists, etc. – about the various uses of narratives. Yet we also seek to identify the risks associated with the growing popularity of narrative ways of representing reality outside the context of literature. The use of experientiality to recruit the audience to a person’s cause may be harmless in literature but not quite so in real life where stories have very real consequences. At a cultural moment when everybody is eager to jump on the narrative bandwagon, we would like to say: Wait just a minute! We are not interested in your story. We are interested in why you are telling it.

Researchers: Maria Mäkelä (PhD, Docent, project leader), Laura Karttunen (PhD), Juha Raipola (PhD), Samuli Björninen (MA), Tytti Rantanen (MA), Matias Nurminen (MA)

Lisää suomeksi:


Selected publications:

In English

Edited volumes:

 [Co-edited with Mari Hatavara, Matti Hyvärinen and Frans Mäyrä] Narrative Theory, Literature, and New Media: Narrative Minds and Virtual Worlds. Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature Series. Oxford & New York: Routledge 2015.

 [Co-edited with Markku Lehtimäki and Laura Karttunen] Narrative, Interrupted: The Plotless, the Disturbing, and the Trivial in Literature. Berlin & Boston: Walter de Gruyter 2012.

Research articles in journals and book chapters (selected):

“The Gnomic Space. Authorial Ethos between Voices in Michael Cunningham’s By Nightfall.” Narrative, 25:1, 2017, 113-137.

”Narratology and Taxonomy. A Response to Brian Richardson.” Style 50:4, 2016, pp. 462-467.

 “Mind as World in the Reality Game Show Survivor.” In Narrative Theory, Literature, and New Media: Narrative Minds and Virtual Worlds. Eds. Mari Hatavara, Matti Hyvärinen, Maria Mäkelä & Frans Mäyrä. Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature Series. Oxford & New York: Routledge, 2015, pp. 240–255.

“Cycles of Narrative Necessity: Suspect Tellers and the Textuality of Fictional Minds.” In Stories and Minds: Cognitive Approaches to Literary Narrative. Eds. Lars Bernaerts, Dirk De Geest, Luc Herman & Bart Vervaeck. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press 2013, pp. 129–151.

 “Realism and the Unnatural.” In A Poetics of Unnatural Narrative. Eds. Jan Alber, Henrik Skov Nielsen and Brian Richardson. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2013, pp. 142–166.

“Navigating – Making Sense – Interpreting: The Reader behind La Jalousie.” In Narrative, Interrupted: The Plotless, the Disturbing, and the Trivial in Literature. Eds. Markku Lehtimäki, Laura Karttunen & Maria Mäkelä. Berlin & Boston: Walter de Gruyter 2012, pp. 139–152.  

 ”Heavy Flies: Disproportionate Narration in Literary Realism.” In The Grotesque and the Unnatural. Eds. Markku Salmela & Jarkko Toikkanen, New York: Cambria Press 2011, pp. 137–159.

 “Masters of Interiority: Figural Voices as Discursive Appropriators and as Loopholes in Narrative Communication.” In Strange Voices in Narrative Fiction. Eds. Per Krogh Hansen, Stefan Iversen, Henrik Skov Nielsen & Rolf Reitan. Narratologia: Contributions to Narrative Theory 30. Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter 2011, pp. 191–218.

 “Possible Minds: Constructing – and Reading – Another Consciousness as Fiction.” In FREElanguageINDIRECTtranslationDISCOURSEnarration: Linguistic, Translatological, and Literary-Theoretical Encounters. Eds. Pekka Tammi & Hannu Tommola. Tampere Studies in Language, Translation and Culture A2. Tampere: Tampere University Press 2006, pp. 231–260.




Uskoton mieli ja tekstuaaliset petokset. Kirjallisen tajunnankuvauksen konventiot narratologisena haasteena. Tampere: Tampere University Press 2011.

Artikkeleita lehdissä ja kokoomateoksissa:

[Yhdessä Laura Karttusen kanssa] “Oi ihana, ohikiitävä rakkaus. Äänet, intuitio ja mielikuvitus fiktiivisen kertomuksen analyysissä.” Mielikuvituksen maailmat. Tieteidenvälisiä tutkimuksia kirjallisuudesta. Turku: Eetos 2017, 158–181.

”Kotini on tekstini. Romaanitraditio, itsestä kertominen, gnoomisuus ja doksa sisustusteksteissä.” niin & näin 90, 3/2016, 53–58.

”Kognitiivinen realismi, kömpelö ruumis ja kielen todellisuus Mikko Rimmisen Pölkyssä.” Avain 1/2015, pp. 29–49.

”Äänellä on asiaa. Hannu Karpon tv-reportaasit ja kutsu kertomukseen.” Lähikuva 4/2013, 7–26.

”Medialukija romaanin opissa: Tapaus Clinton-Lewinsky ja kirjallisesti välittynyt kokemuksellisuus.” Luonnolliset ja luonnottomat kertomukset: Jälkiklassisen narratologian suuntia. Toim. Mari Hatavara, Markku Lehtimäki & Pekka Tammi. Helsinki: Gaudeamus 2010, 187–219.


Full texts and more publications on:

Research activities (SoleCris)äkelä


Blog entires on [in Finnish]:

Muutettu: 28.8.2017 13.20 Muokkaa

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