Letters and Songs: Registers of Beliefs and Expressions in the Early Modern North

Kuva: Laura Tikkanen
The research group consist of Ilkka Leskelä, Linda Kaljundi, Anu Lahtinen, Tuomas M. S. Lehtonen, Kati Kallio, Ulla Koskinen and Eeva-Liisa Bastman.
The aim of the “Letters and Songs” project is to investigate cultural change in the post-Reformation Baltic Sea region. The project’s detailed analysis of sociocultural networks and historical changes in registers of expression challenges the prevailing understanding of the relationships between institutions of power and faith vis-á-vis local communities and belief systems. These insights are enabled by the collaborative use of methods across the fields of cultural, social and economic history, folklore studies, ethnomusicology and literary studies, and by the use of diverse early modern source materials, such as collections of correspondence, early books and other prints, manuscripts, hymns, and sermons in Finnish, Swedish, Estonian, German, and Latin. The focus of the project is on the areas of modern Finland and Estonia.

Conventionally, the early modern Baltic Sea region has been analyzed from the standpoint of national histories and separate disciplines, each with its own source types and research questions. This project intends to cross the boundaries of modern nations and scholarly traditions by concentrating on materials at the intersection of different social networks, registers of expression, belief systems, and minor traditions. It aims to analyze the cultural nexus of elite and folk, ecclesiastical and secular, and oral and literary cultures. How did religious and social rhetoric change in letters written by the nobility and merchants; how did the song cultures of learned and laymen intersect; and how did different Catholic and folk traditions become interwoven with learned cultures and new Lutheran doctrines and practices?

The “Letters and Songs” project consists of four sub-projects on (1) social and religious discourses in correspondence; (2) songbooks, manuscripts and networks as a nexus of sociocultural strata; (3) changes in vernacular song cultures; and (4) poetic registers at the interface of oral and literary culture.

In analyzing the interaction of ecclesiastical and administrative institutions and local communities, and the systems of expression and belief in historical processes, the project will re-evaluate views of early modern social and cultural history and early Finnish poetics. Our aims are to define new methods for analyzing historical and sociocultural dynamics and to make some edited source materials available in digital format.

See also the English summary of our most recent book Laulut ja kirjoitukset: suullinen ja kirjallinen kulttuuri uuden ajan alun Suomessa 27 (Songs and Writings: Oral and Literary Culture in Early-Modern Finland; SKS 2017).

Secretary General of the Finnish Literature Society, docent Tuomas M. S. Lehtonen in the principal investigator while its other researchers are:

  • Mag. phil. Eeva Liisa Bastman, Finnish literature
  • Dr. phil. Linda Kaljundi, history
  • Dr. phil. Kati Kallio, folkloristics
  • Dr. phil. Ulla Koskinen, history
  • Docent Anu Lahtinen, history
  • Mag. phil. Ilkka Leskelä, social science history

Researchers in the network of collaboration:

  • Dr. Sabrina Corbellini, University of Groningen
  • Prof. Marjo Kaartinen, University of Turku
  • Prof. Martin Berntson, University of Jönköping
  • Dr. Pauls Daija, University of Latvia
  • Prof. Mara Grudule, University of Latvia
  • Dr. Juhan Kreem, University of Tallinn
  • Prof. Jorma Hannikainen, Sibelius Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki
  • Prof. Kaisa Häkkinen, University of Turku
  • Prof. Carsten Selch Jensen, University of Copenhagen
  • Dr. Jyrki Knuutila, University of Helsinki
  • Dr. Kaarina Koski, University of Turku
  • Prof. Marko Lamberg, University of Stockholm
  • Dr. Mirkka Lappalainen, University of Helsinki
  • Prof. Tuija Laine, University of Helsinki
  • Prof. Jason Lavery, Oklahoma State University
  • Prof. Göran Malmstedt, University of Göteborg
  • Prof. Marco Mostert, University of Utrecht
  • Dr. Eivor Andersen Oftestad, University of Oslo
  • Dr. Janika Oras, Estonian Literary Museum
  • Prof. Nils Holger Petersen, University of Copenhagen
  • Prof. Andrew Pettegree, Univesity of St. Andrews
  • Dr Kristiina Ross, Insitute of Estonian language
  • Prof. Ülo Valk, University of Tartu
  • Prof. Kristi Viiding, Univeristy of Tallinn
  • Dr. Aivar Põldvee, Univeristy of Tallinn