Sie sind hier: FRIAS School of Language & … Fellows Prof. Dr. Päivi Mehtonen

Prof. Dr. Päivi Mehtonen

Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft
Universität Tampere, Finnland
Jan. - Juli 2009

Vergangene FRIAS-Aufenthalte

  • Jan. - Juli 2009



Päivi Mehtonen received her PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Tampere, Finland, in 1996. She is Adjunct Professor at the Universities of Tampere and Helsinki. From 2008 until 2013 she works as Academy Research Fellow (funded by the Academy of Finland) and leads the research project “Literature, Transcendence and Avant-garde” ( Mehtonen’s current research focuses on the early 20th-century quests for abstract language and literature, particularly the connections between poetics, philosophy of language and negative theology.


Recent Publications


  • 2008 “Dante’s Avantgardism Reinvented: Medievalism and Modernism,” in: Dante. A Critical Reappraisal, ed. Unn Falkeid Butenschon, Oslo: Unipub, 177-186.
  • 2007 “Essential Art: Matthew of Linköping’s Fourteenth-Century Poetics,” Rhetorica (University of California Press), 25 (2), 125-139.
  • 2007 (editor) Illuminating Darkness. Approaches to Obscurity and Nothingness in Literature, Helsinki: The Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters. (“‘Pilgrims on the road to nowhere.’ Towards a Poetics of Nothingness,” 9-24).
  • 2007 “Review of the volume: Mary Douglas, Thinking in Circles. An Essay on Ring Composition (Yale UP 2007),” Bryn Mawr Reviews (University of Pennsylvania, Indiana University),
  • 2006 “Poetics, Narration and Imitation: Rhetoric as ars aplicabilis,” in: The Rhetoric of Cicero in its Medieval and Early Renaissance Commentary Tradition, eds. Virginia Cox and John O. Ward, Leiden: Brill, 289-312.
  • 2006 “The Poetics of the Confusion of Tongues: De vulgari eloquentia and De poësi Fennica,” in: Perspektiv på Dante II, ed. Anders Cullhed, Copenhagen: Multivers Academic, 325-336.
  • 2003 Obscure Language, Unclear Literature. Theory and Practice from Quintilian to the Enlightenment, Helsinki: The Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters.
  • 2001 “‘When is obscurity apposite?’ George Campbell at the Crossroads of Rhetorical Theory and Modern Epistemology,” in: Communication and Intelligibility, eds. L. Lundsten, A. Siitonen and B. Österman, ACTA PHILOSOPHICA FENNICA 69, 159-169.


FRIAS Research Project

A Quest for Abstract Literature. Avant-garde and Medievalism

This research project will explore the idea(l)s and meanings of  ‘abstract literature/language’ in European poetics and literary theories of the very early 1900s (esp. Futurism and Dada in literature; early Formalism and Structuralism in literary theory). One influential model for poetics based on non-mimetic, non-narrative or non-referential notions was neo-Platonism and medieval mystical theology.

This Begriffsgeschichte is meant to serve further text-analytical questions such as: whereas the term ‘abstract literature’ - unlike ‘abstract painting’ - lost much of its popularity in the theoretical discourses and manifestos after the 1920s, (how) did the quest continue in the praxis of later experimental literature? As something that could be described and analysed as a group of distinct textual features?