Merja Polvinen

SF literature; cognitive approaches to literary studies; literature and science

Merja Polvinen is a long-term SF-fan, a former member of the Finfar board, and a member of the Academic Advisory Board for Fafnir. Her PhD research focused on the dialogue between literature and science, and in her post-doc work she has analysed the possibilities offered to literary studies by the cognitive sciences. Merja has taught SF-courses at the University of Helsinki (as well as once at the Fudan University in Shanghai), is supervisor to several dissertation projects focusing on SF literature, and currently leads a research project focusing on speculative fiction within the Instrumental Narratives consortium, funded by the Academy of Finland for 2018-2022. Her favourite writers include Tolkien (of course), Catherynne M. Valente, Ted Chiang and China Miéville.
Degrees: PhD 2009 (University of Helsinki, English philology; dissertation Reading the Texture of Reality: Chaos Theory, Literature and the Humanist Perspective), Licensiate 2003 (UH, English philology), MA 1997 (UH, English philology, minoring in comparative literature)

Current affiliations: Senior lecturer, English philology, University of Helsinki; Docent in Comparative Literature, University of Helsinki

Selected publications

‘A Simple Story of a Complex Mind?’ Narrating Complexity. Ed. by Susan Stepney and Richard Walsh. Cham: Springer, 2018. 65-79.

‘Sense-Making and Wonder: An Enactive Approach to Narrative Form in Speculative Fiction’. The Edinburgh Companion to Contemporary Narrative Theories, ed. by Zara Dinnen and Robyn Warhol, Edinburgh University Press. 67–80.

‘Cognitive Science and the Double Vision of Fiction’. In Cognitive Literary Science: Dialogues Between Literature and Cognition. Ed. by Michael Burke and Emily Troscianko. New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2017. 135–150.

‘Enactive Perception and Fictional Worlds’. In The Cognitive Humanities: Embodied Mind in Literature and Culture. Ed. by Peter Garratt. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. 19–34.