Sirkka Knuuttila
1979 …2022

Research activity per year

Personal profile

Education information

PhD, Licentiate in Medicine ABD

Education information

Artistic education

1981 Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, graphics
1977-78 Free Art School
1967-69 Helsinki University Drawing Institute
1975-94 Art History, University of Helsinki




Curriculum vitae

2012 Docent of Comparative Literature, University of Helsinki

I am studying the persistent reorganization of subjectivity and the sense of "self" from the current viewpoints of an enactive embodied mind. Lastly, focused on the cooperation of the embodied mind's unconscious and non-conscious aspects with the conscious one, I investigate how they can contribute to cultural value-formation in literature through memory and imagination, thus modificating our cultural memory.

My earlier research topics in the field are several. In the doctoral thesis on Marguerite Duras's trauma fiction, I studied the aesthetics of postcolonial trauma narratives. I also investigated literary emotions in the light of Peircean semiotics and late Roland Barhes's ideas about affective image. Then, building on the basis of studying Friederike Mayröcker's lyrics, I published an extensive Finnish selection of her poems, with an afterword concerning Mayröcker's literary career and style (Elämän käpälistä, ntamo 2018).

On the practical level, in my art exhibitions and performances between 1988 and 2008, I combined written and spoken lyrics with instrumental, dance and voice improvisations of various professional artists and lay groups.  

Last works

The Chapter of From implicit memory to cultural counter-memory: Marguerite Duras rewriting colonial trauma was published Nov 2022 in Cultural Memory. From the Sciences to the Humanities, eds. Donald R. Wehrs, Suzanne Nalbantian & Don M. Tucker (Routledge)


Academic teaching 

Comparative Literature, University of Helsinki 

2015-16 Representing consciousness in literature in the era of internet, I & II, practicum 

2012 Studying trauma narratives, practicum 

2012 Literary trauma studies, a methodological lecture  

Semiotics, University of Helsinki

2010 Trauma fiction of Marguerite Duras and Sofi Oksanen, a lecture in the series of Studia Semiotica: Freedom and Necessity

2007 Roland Barthes' affective image - lectures in the series on Barthes's semiotics

2002 Measured-experienced-narrated: semiotics of medical case histories - a lecture in the series of Studia Semiotica

Comparative Literature, University of Tampere

2006 Trauma narratives in the light of Marguerite Duras's works. A lecture in the common series of literature and medicine Art and Illness 

Comparative Literature, Women Studies, and Sociology of Arts, University of Joensuu

1996-99 Woman in literature and institutions of literature - a practicum series

1995 Narratology of Marguerite Duras's works, a hermeneutic viewpoint - a lecture 

Education/Academic qualification

Comparative Literature, PhD, Helsingin yliopisto

Sept 199912 Dec 2009

Award Date: 29 Jan 2010

Medicine, Licentiate of Medicine ABD, Physician, Helsingin yliopisto

1 Jan 196831 Dec 1974

Award Date: 31 Dec 1974

External positions

Cognitive psychotherapist Advanced level

1 Jun 200518 May 2018


28 Aug 1988 → …


1 Jan 197521 Dec 2016

Fields of Science

  • 6122 Literature studies
  • postclassical narratology
  • Marguerite Duras research
  • the aesthetics of trauma narratives
  • Friederike Mayröcker's lyrics
  • experimental poetry
  • Roland Barthes's semiotics
  • affective image
  • the embodied mind
  • social neuroscience
  • Cultural Memory Studies
  • implicit memory
  • Values and attitudes