Contact Information

French Philology belongs to the Department of Modern Languages

Contact details can be found on the staff members' individual TUHAT-pages, and office hours are listed in Flamma-intranet.

P.O. Box 24 (Unioninkatu 40, 5th floor)
00014 University of Helsinki

Telephone Directory


About the subject

about The teaching of Romance languages dates back to the 17 th century, to the time of the Academy of Turku. Teaching of French and Italian started at that time. Instruction in Romance philology and the literatures of Romance-language countries began at the end of the 19th century. Werner Söderhjelm became docent of Romance philology in 1889 and professor extraordinary in Romance philology in 1894. The actual chair was created in 1908.

Romance philology refers principally to the study of the different Romance languages. From the beginning, the main emphasis was on French language and literature, although other Romance languages were taught as well. Once the chairs of Ibero-Romance languages (1981) and Italian philology (1996) were created, the oldest discipline of the former Department of Romance Languages could change its name to French philology.

Werner Söderhjelm was succeeded by Axel Wallensköld, Arthur Långfors, Veikko Väänänen and Olli Välikangas as professors of Romance philology. The first Ibero-Romance languages professorship was created in 1981 and that of Italian philology in 1996. The professors in French philology today are Juhani Härmä (Romance philology) and Mervi Helkkula (French language), and there are seven docents (Outi Merisalo, Eva Havu, Meri Larjavaara, Ulla Tuomarla, Fred Dervin, Mari Wiklund, Simo Määttä).

At first, the main focus in the research and teaching of French was on philology and literature. The end of the 19th century saw the emergence of what became known as the ‘Finnish School of Medieval French language and literature research’ which became renowned worldwide for its text editions. Works of the 13th century poet Gautier de Coincy were published copiously until the latter half of the 20th century. During recent years, research in French philology has expanded more towards linguistics (e.g. contrastive linguistics, text linguistics, syntax, pragmatics).