Photo credits:
Johan Wahlgren

Merja Polvinen

Erik Allardt Fellow, SCAS.
Senior Lecturer in English Philology, University of Helsinki

Merja Polvinen studied English at the University of Helsinki and completed her PhD in 2009. Her
post-doc years took her to Scotland, where she collaborated with the AHRC-funded project Poetry
Beyond Text: Vision, Text & Cognition
, and to the USA, where she was a visiting scholar at Project
at the Ohio State University. Back in Finland, she was a Core Fellow of the Helsinki Colle-
gium for Advanced Studies for 2013–2016, and she currently works as Senior Lecturer at the Depart-
ment of Languages, University of Helsinki. She also holds the position of docent (adjunct professor)
in Comparative Literature.

Polvinen works on interdisciplinary approaches to literature. Her PhD dissertation focused on literature
and the natural sciences (Reading the Texture of Reality: Chaos Theory, Literature and the Humanist
, 2008), and her current work combines literary studies with the cognitive sciences (particu-
larly the 4E approaches) to study the role of fictional narratives in human lives.

For 2018–2022 Polvinen is a PI in the consortium Instrumental Narratives: The Limits of Storytelling and
New Story-Critical Narrative Theory
(iNARR), funded by the Academy of Finland, where scholars from
three universities examine the ways in which stories are – and are not – helpful in understanding complex
phenomena in contemporary societies.

At SCAS Polvinen will examine artifice as a central quality in the experience of fiction – one that makes
the cognitive environment of fictions fundamentally different from our everyday sensory reality. Recent
articles on this topic have appeared in the volumes Cognitive Literary Science (OUP, 2017), The Edinburgh
Companion to Contemporary Narrative Theories
(Edinburgh UP, 2018) and Narrative and Complex Systems
(Springer, 2018).

This information is accurate as of the academic year 2019-20.