Save Classics at Turku!

Save Classics at Turku!

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Ulla Rajala started this petition

Save Classics professorship at Turku, Finland!

The University of Turku, Finland, is going to abolish the professorship in Classics and Classical Cultures when the current professor Jyri Vaahtera will retire. This will mean that none of the historic universities in Turku will have Classics professor that guarantees Classics as a major discipline. Turku after all was the location of the Turku Academy, the first university in Finland with the history of the discipline going back to 1640.

The University of Turku prides itself being a Coimbra university. However, these prestigious universities, such as Durham, Leuven, Uppsala and Groningen, tend to have lively Classics departments. Now Turku is going to make a cut in one of the most natural international, interdisciplinary of disciplines.

The cut will abolish the only professorship that incorporates Latin and Roman literature in Finland, cut one of the two professors in ancient Greek and risk the teaching of Classical Archaeology as an official minor in Finland. There are researchers and odd lecture series at Helsinki, but classical archaeology lost its last lectureships when the lectureship at Oulu was transformed into the lectureship in Historic Archaeology and the lecturer at Helsinki retired. Saving the classics professorship at Turku would guarantee the teaching of this subject in Finland.

Turku department may be small but it is successful. A recent Wihuri Fellow at the Institutum Romanum Finlandiae, the Finnish institute in Rome, was from Turku. Doctoral student Joonas Vanhala studies defamation in the writings of Martialis and the inscriptions in Pompeii and is a recognised member of the Pompeii research community. Another doctoral student Maria Jokela just received 4-year funding from the Kone Foundation. These students need a professor as a supervisor. Of the previous alumni one can mention Dr Antti Lampinen, the Assistant Director of the Finnish Institute in Athens.

Turku is also an important home of important translations. The recent celebrated translations of the De Architectura by Vitruvius and Cicero’s letters were at least partly translated by Aulikki Vuola and Veli-Matti Rissanen respectively who are alumni. These have been considered cultural events in Finland.

Classics and Classical Archaeology are important minors at Turku. The past students of classics include Professor Arja Karivieri, the Professor in Ancient History and Classical Archaeology at Stockholm. The students at Turku can currently read Classical Archaeology up to the BA level and Classics to the MA level. This right should be guaranteed also in the future.

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In Leicester January 13, 2023

Dr Ulla Rajala

Stockholm University

Alumna of Turku

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