Now Online! | Women Weaving the World: Text and Textile in the Kalevala and Beyond

The CHS is pleased to announce the online publication of Women Weaving the World: Text and Textile in the Kalevala and Beyond, an honors thesis by Hanna Eilittä Psychas presented to the Department of Comparative Literature and the Committee on Degrees in Theater, Dance, & Media, Harvard College, December 7, 2017.

From the foreword (Parts I and II)

Women Weaving the World: Text and Textile in the Kalevala and Beyond, by Hanna Eilittä Psychas, shows convincingly—both by argument and by example—that the craft of weaving as practiced by women is related to the art of making song or poetry. The work also shows that the various distinctions between “craft” and “art” are in fact secondary to the primary relatedness of textile and text. The term “text,” as in the title, refers to any form of creativity achieved by way of song, unwritten as well as written, that is metaphorized as a woven web, while the term “textile” embraces all forms of fabric-work, especially as exemplified by pattern-weaving on a warp-weighted standing loom.

–Gregory Nagy, supervisor of the thesis

All in all, this is one of the most fully realized thesis projects I have encountered. It feels somehow ‘whole’ in a way most others do not. To be sure, there is more that could be said; this is a fabric that could be extended indefinitely. But the text that Psychas has woven has an organic unity. One senses that the author has brought to bear every relevant dimension of her experience, intellectual and otherwise. In this sense especially, Women Weaving the World is an exemplary piece of writing—a way of synthesizing experience to which every writer, at every level, should aspire, even if it is so rarely realized as fully as it is here.

–David Elmer, professor designated to evaluate the thesis

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Featured image: Weavers at the Registan in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Image via Wikimedia Commons.