Non-fiction encompasses a wide range of works from academic books to hobby books and manuals. This spectrum also covers textbooks, biographies, popular science books, non-fiction books for children and adolescents, as well as many other subgenres. Non-fiction studies is a new discipline at the University of Helsinki, although non-fiction has been examined within several fields of science, including linguistics, educational sciences, history and media studies.
Non-fiction can be examined on both micro and macro levels. As regards the former, the focus can be on ways of expression, narrative techniques or style in individual works. As regards the macro level, the focus can be on a certain genre (e.g., textbooks, cookbooks, biographies), its development and variance, or status in the community. All of these are topics for theses and dissertations, as well as course assignments.
In addition to books and non-fiction literature, authors and their activities, as well as those of the readership, are examined.
- Long and short texts examining the narrative techniques of blogs and non-fiction books: how techniques differ between online and printed texts, how the manner of representation and the argumentation in non-fiction books differ from those of short blog texts
- Knowledge-telling where the methods of description employed in popular non-fiction books, such as the use of stories and other narrative techniques, are examined
- A support project for the Lukuklaani (“Reading Clan”) project where the reading of non-fiction texts in primary school is examined
Non-fiction literature has been primarily studied through the methods of text and discourse analysis, but perspectives of the sociology of literature are also possible. The scope is constantly expanding, since changes in the publishing industry are creating new topics for research. These include the characteristics of and differences between printed books, e-books and online publications, the practices of writing and reading related to various publication platforms, as well as economic and copyright issues related to books. Such perspectives are multidisciplinary in nature.