Out Of The Ordinary

Challenging Commonplace Concepts in Anglophone Literature.

University of Turku, Finland.


Our main objective is to examine and gain access to that which might lie in-between or beyond the trite opposition between exploitation and emancipation in order to contest the perhaps obsolete but hegemonic logic of revealing oppression and rebuilding emancipation in contemporary critical theory. The overall objectives of our project are summarized in the following aims:

● to challenge commonplace concepts in Anglophone literature, inquire into the possibility of new epistemological formations as represented in literature and question the dominance of empirical knowledge as the source of ‘facts’,
● to critique the perceived uniformity of hegemonic structures such as Europe, diaspora or the colonizer, and the hierarchy of established cultural forms such as the Western novel or the diasporic novel, which we believe will enable us to analyze how the self-evident familiarity of a given genre can be challenged,

● to challenge the standpoints of postcolonial studies which may be developing into stereotypes or hegemonies, such as celebrating poststructuralist textual hybridities, or oversimplifying the familiar as the opposite of the other,

● to build a methodology which sees the ordinary in constant interaction between several planes of agency and action, thus defamiliarizing the commonplace.

Our aim is thus to critique the generic nature in which the ‘familiar’ is stereotyped as the boundary line of otherness, hence also producing formulaic research on otherness. Defamiliarizing the norm enables us to engage in an ethical encounter with alterity so that it is not constituted and defined by the stereotype of familiarity. Thus, our main hypothesis is that by defamiliarizing the commonplace, we should be able to escape uniform knowledge of the commonplace, which also produces uniform knowledge of the other. Ultimately, we seek to find more ethical ways to engage with the other.

PROJECT TEAM Prof Joel Kuortti | Dr Kaisa Ilmonen | Dr Janne Korkka | Dr Elina Valovirta

FUNDED BY The Academy of Finland


PROJECT DURATION 1st January 2014 – 31st December 2017



The project has active local, national and international contacts with institutions, research groups, and individual researchers. While the site of research is the Department of English, U. Turku, the project is an interdisciplinary one and it grows out of previous work successfully conducted in the Faculty of Humanities, both in the Department of English within the School of Languages and Translation Studies and the Department of Comparative Literature within the School of History, Culture and Art Studies.



University of Leeds (UK), JNU – Jawaharlal Nehru University (INDIA), University of Reading (UK), University of Toronto (CANADA), University of Liége (BELGIUM), University of Trento (ITALY), University of Aarhus (DENMARK), Uppsala University (SWEDEN), University of Eastern Finland