I am specialised in Italian literature and culture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition, I have worked on critical discourse analysis and studied contemporary political and media discourse, contemporary literature (Diego Marani), and contemporary Italian cinema. For details, please see my list of publications.
I am interested in cultural phenomena that I analyse mainly through literature. I have chosen subjects that are internationally important, and that are therefore worth researching in a remote country as Finland is from Italy. So far, I have been researching Italian futurism, especially the literary works and ideas of its founder, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, and artistic and cultural life in Fascist Italy. In recent years, I have focused on another internationally renowned author, Gabriele D’Annunzio. I am about to complete a monograph in English on D’Annunzio’s aesthetics, the working title being “Urban correspondences: D’Annunzio’s aesthetics and the representation of the city”.
It is impossible to conduct thorough research of Italian literature or culture in Finland, as unpublished archival sources and even most of the bibliography is in Italy. For this reason, I do research in Italy every year for several months. My longest continuous stay in Italy after the doctoral degree lasted two years, when I was visiting researcher at the University of Ca’ Foscar, Venice, funded by the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, and other grants. As a rule, I work in Venice where at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice I have collaborated with Professor Pietro Gibellini, one of the major specialists on D’Annunzio, and excellent libraries, notably BAUM (Biblioteca dell’area umanistica), Querini Stampalia and La Marciana. Another important place is Rome, where, in addition to the Italian National Library, the Finnish Institute of Rome is located. I have many times spent a period of several months at the Institute and have lectured there for both to the students of the Institute and to the general public. Details are available in the University research website TUHAT: https://tuhat.helsinki.fi/portal/fi/person/harmanma.
The University of Helsinki chose me for the academic year 2008-2009 as the visiting researcher at Clare Hall College, University of Cambridge, UK. This traditional British college was and still is an inspiring place to do research, with one of the best libraries in the world. I also lectured both at the College, and at the Department of Italian at the University of Cambridge on several occasions. As an evidence of the good reception for my research, in spring 2010 we organised a Futurist banquet at the College. I am now life member of Clare Hall College, and therefore have the privilege to use both the College services and the university library. After my scholarship year, I have repeatedly returned to Cambridge for my research work.
In addition to Italy and the United Kingdom, I worked for three months at Yale University in the United States for my doctoral dissertation research. Most of the archival material related to F.T. Marinetti is situated in the Beinecke rare books and manuscript library at Yale. Since his offspring sold the rest of the personal archive material to the Getty Center in Los Angeles, to complete the doctoral dissertation I had to go there as well for several weeks.
I have received several grants and scholarships for my research work and have specified them on my personal web page (https://marjaharmanmaa.com -> tutkimus – research -> Grants and awards). The most significant grants are the one-year grant from the Academy of Finland for research work abroad (2006, 12 months) and the Clare Hall scholarship (2008-2009, 10 months) from the University of Helsinki. In addition, I have received funding for research, conference trips and organisation of scientific conferences and seminars. To date, funding for my research work totals approximately 130,000 €.
The University of Helsinki has steadily supported my annual participation in various international conferences. To date, I have given close to 60 presentations at various conferences and seminars (some 20 of which were invited lectures), and I have organised 15 different workshops, panels and sessions at conferences. Details are available in the University research website TUHAT: https://tuhat.helsinki.fi/portal/fi/person/harmanma
Research visits and conferences have enabled me to build an extensive network, which, in addition to Italy, extends from the Middle East to the Americas. This networking has in turn fostered a number of international scientific projects. The most important of these are the two major international conferences I have organised: the XI International Conference of ISSEI (The International Society for the Study of European Ideas), organised at the University of Helsinki in 2008 and attended by more than 500 people from around the world; and the IV International EAM Conference (The European Network for Avant-garde and Modernism Studies) that was also held at the University of Helsinki in August 2014, with over 350 participants also from all over the world (http://www.eam-europe.be).
At Cambridge, I attended the doctoral training seminar at the University’s Italian Department and followed teaching in several courses. With my colleague, Senior Lecturer Dr. Pierpaolo Antonello of the University of Cambridge, I edited a special issue about Italian futurism, ‘Future Imperfect’, for the journal The European Legacy (Taylor & Francis/Routledge 2009). In 2012 with an American colleague, professor Christopher Nissen (Northern Illinois University) I started an international and multidisciplinary research project on ‘Decadence, Degeneration and the End: studies in the European fin de siècle’. The result was a homonymous collection of essays, published by Palgrave in 2014.
International co-operation has also sparked a number of other roles, such as lectures and seminars, memberships in various scientific evaluation committees, and the chairmanship of the EAM network (European network for Avant-garde and Modernism Studies) together with Professor David Ayers in 2012-2014. Details are available in the University research website TUHAT: https://tuhat.helsinki.fi/portal/fi/person/harmanma.
I was the first person to earn a PhD in Italian Philology in Finland. This fact has forced me to seek partners for collaboration from other disciplines. This point of departure has turned my research multidisciplinary: I combine literary, cultural and historic studies, linguistic and discourse analysis with social sciences. The results of early co-operation with the Finnish scientific community are three research projects and collections of essays: Härmänmaa and Mattila (eds.) The Brave New Man, or the Dark Side of Modernity (Atena, 1998); Härmänmaa and Vihavainen (eds.) Petrified Ideals? The Raise of Classicism in the Interwar Europe (Atena, 2000); Härmänmaa and Mattila (eds.) Anarchism, Avant-garde, Terrorism – Some Strategies to Disturb the Order (Gaudeamus, University of Helsinki Press, 2007). These books have been / are used as textbooks at Finnish universities. Our latest national and multidisciplinary research project dealt with the pictorial and verbal representation of conflict. The project involved historians, linguists, philosophers, and scholars of politics and war. The collection of essays titled Binaries in Battle (eds. Huhtinen, Kotilainen and Vuorinen) was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2014. I led the project until November 2013. In summer 2016, I participated to the foundation of the Finnish Avant-garde and Modernism network (FAM). FAM actively publishes blogs, and will organise seminars annually: https://finnishavantgardenetwork.com.
The Finnish academic world also emphasises the importance of social interaction and impact. Since 2012 I have been president of the Society Dante Alighieri in Helsinki (www.dante.fi), the aim of which is precisely to diffuse Italian culture. I also publish articles and blogs for general public, give public lectures, talks and lecture series for instance in the Open College of the City of Helsinki. Details are available in the University research website TUHAT: https://tuhat.helsinki.fi/portal/fi/person/harmanma.