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Lecture: Kalevala – The Finnish National Epic with Börje Vähämäki

Join Finlandia Foundation of Boston in a special centenary year of independence lecture with professor Börje Vähämäki in a discussion in the Kalevala, the Finnish National epic. Professor Vähämäki’s lecture emphasizes the world view of the Kalevala, allowing him to bring out the Kalevala’s great diversity – the myths, shamanism, “Finnishness” and overall moral and religious values reflected in the epic poem. He will recite and chant a few lines in Finnish (as a sampler) and try to define what the Kalevala is.

3pm | admission is FREE

ABOUT Börje Vähämäki

Born and educated in Finland, Börje Vähämäki received all of his academic degrees from Åbo Academy University in Turku, Finland. In 1975, he accepted a position as professor of Finnish Studies at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis, where he taught until 1989, after which he moved to initiate and head a Finnish Studies Program at the University of Toronto. He retired in 2014.

Early in his career, Mr. Vähämäki specialized in Finnish linguistics and wrote his magnum opus, Existence and Identity (Åbo Academy University Press), as well as several articles. However, at both Minnesota and Toronto his teaching dealt mostly with Finnish literature, including the Kalevala, and Finnish cinema, and so he changed his research focus accordingly. Over the last four decades he has published numerous articles on Finnish literature and the Kalevala, and written books on the Finnish language, including Mastering Finnish, a language learning textbook and CD set.
In 1997, Mr. Vähämäki founded the Journal of Finnish Studies, which he edited for 12 years. In 1999, he established
a small publishing company, Aspasia Books, Inc., which has published over 30 English titles of relevance to Finnish studies, including Kivi’s Seven Brothers and the trilogy Under the North Star by Väinö Linna. His translations include A Treasury of Finnish Love Poems, Finnish Short Stories (with Ingrid Jensen), Red Moon over White Sea by Laila Hietamies, and Fragments of Lappish Mythology by L.L. Laestadius. He published two audio books of Kalevala poems in 2009. He was awarded the insignia of Knight of the Order of the White Rose of Finland, First Class, and was inducted as the 137th foreign member in the Kalevala Society of Finland.