Cultural Meanings and Vernacular Genres (CMVG) is a Research Community (RC) at the University of Helsinki that participated successfully (in category 2) in the International Evaluation of Research and Doctoral Training at the University of Helsinki 2005–2010. In 2012, the Rector awarded CMVG funding for the period of 2013–2016 (€ 90,000).
The RC comprises of professors, selected adjunct professors, postdoctoral fellows and doctoral candidates in folklore studies at the University of Helsinki. It is a tight group of researchers who are in daily contact and share a common theoretical approach in the ethnographic and archival study of vernacular genres. By vernacular genres we mean locally emergent forms of verbal expressions that are either oral and traditional, or literary with close correlations to oral performance and social authorship. Such formalized expressions range from laments, incantations, rhymed couplets, proverbs, myths, epic poetry, folktales and belief legends to biographical narratives. Our main focus is in the analytic understanding of the oral transmission of culture, but because of the close interaction between written and oral forms of communication in culture, we do not draw a sharp distinction vis-à-vis literacy and the culture of writing. Since for many of us ethnographic materials derive from archival sources, our research is informed of the terms that the conventions of print impose on textual representations of orality. Instead of using vernacular genres as tools of classification, we approach them as frames of performance and interpretation used in social situations for the communication of cultural meanings.
Five members of the RC are internationally acknowledged scholars that have functioned as supervisors of the rest of the members. At the time of the evaluation, there were three postdoctoral researchers and 13 doctoral candidates. In 2011, five members defended successfully their doctoral dissertations. Eleven members with a doctoral degree have defended their dissertations at the University of Helsinki, while two have their doctorates from a foreign university, one from the United States and the other from Britain. The doctoral students in the group are in different stages of their doctoral work. All of them have been highly successful in their applications for research funding.
Responsible person (1.8.2014-): Lotte Tarkka, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies, Folklore