Howard Sklar, PhD

Department of Modern Languages (English Philology)

University of Helsinki


A little bit about me...


I am a University Lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages (English Philology Unit) at the University of Helsinki.  During the autumn 2013, I will teach the proseminar (prep for BA thesis) “20th Century American Short Fiction”; an advanced option in literature, “Reading Other Minds” (see link on this site); two courses in Academic Writing; and an advanced option in applied linguistics, “Teaching Secondary School English.”  I will also offer a book examination in “Disability Studies and Literature.”


In the past, I have taught a variety of courses to students in the  English Philology Unit and the Department of Comparative Literature, including “Narrative, Ethics and the Significance of Reading” (formerly “Fiction, Ethics and the Significance of Reading”),  “Disability Studies and Literature,” “Fiction and the Emotions,” and “Reading Other Minds.”


Until August 2013, I was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Modern Languages (English Philology Unit) at the University of Helsinki. My research project, with the working title “Stories of the ‘Intellectually Disabled’: An Investigation of Narratives Representing People with Intellectual Disabilities and Their Effects on Non-Disabled Adolescent Readers,” was funded by the Academy of Finland and the University of Helsinki. The research, which I am continuing while teaching at the University of Helsinki, involves an examination of the ways that narratives—in fiction, film, autobiography, graphic novels, and interviews—represent people with intellectual disabilities.  For a more detailed description of the project, see the “Postdoctoral Research” page on this website.


I completed my PhD in 2008 through the Department of English (now the English Philology Unit) at the University of Helsinki.  The title of my dissertation is The Art of Sympathy: Forms of Moral and Emotional Persuasion in Fiction. A revised version of this work was published in the Linguistic Approaches to Literature series of John Benjamins Publishing Company in March 2013. My essays have appeared in Poetics Today, Storyworlds: A Journal of Narrative Studies, Partial Answers, and the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, among other publications (see the C.V. link to the left for a complete list of publications).


In 2009, I edited a special issue of Helsinki English Studies, the electronic journal of the Department of English at the University of Helsinki, with the theme “Emotions: Implications for Literary, Linguistic, and Translation Studies” (see the link on the homepage of this website).


In addition to my university-related work, I was a teacher of English in the public schools of Espoo, Finland, and of California from 1987 to 2011.


I can be reached at