Senni Timonen

Senni Timonen, PhD, was awarded the fifth Kalevala Society Award for her work as a researcher of folk lyrics. With her scientific work, Timonen has spread awareness of the poetic creativity of common people. The award was given to Timonen at the seminar of the Kalevala Society on Kalevala Day, 28 February 2014.

Photo Elina Lampela

Photo Elina Lampela

Senni Timonen’s doctoral dissertation I, space, feeling. Perspectives on Kalevala-metre folk lyrics (2004) was a revolutionary study in many ways. In it, Timonen focused on the dimensions of the main themes of these lyrics, which were earlier considered to consist of short, femininely quirky poems.

I, space, feeling brought a new perspective to the study of folk lyrics by focusing on women of different ages as individuals, by describing their emotions from grief to joy and loneliness to community. All of this was based on a solid body of research, on knowledge of Kalevala-metre folk lyrics – the best in the world.

The women’s perspective has been a lasting theme throughout Senni Timonen’s work, ever since 1977 when she published Rose of the Forest and Bird of the Sky: Thoughts of a Recent Feminist. The key work for the women’s perspective in folklore research is The Words of Louhi: Writings on Women in Folklore (1990), edited by Timonen and Aili Nenola.

Timonen’s studies have broadened the view of the past contained in folk lyrics, and their inspiring effect can be seen in all those doctoral dissertations written during this millennium that study the old folk poetry of Finland. Many have said that Senni Timonen is an inspiring supervisor, a good research partner and a tactful critic.

Senni Timonen was born in Helsinki, matriculating from high school in 1963 from the Kulosaari Comprehensive School and graduating as a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Helsinki in 1974. She became a PhD in 2004. Timonen has worked as a researcher and senior researcher at the folklore archives of the Finnish Literature Society.