Dr. Arne Merilai

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University of Tartu
Institute of Cultural Research and Fine Arts
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is a Professor and Chair of Estonian Literature at the University of Tartu. His primary area of research is national literature in the context of world literature. Aligned with his practical, theoretical and pedagogical work, he is mowing towards comparative poetics and literary ’unified field theory’ to integrate postmodern methodological diversity. Professor Merilai’s researches are anchored primarily in bio-bibliographical and comparative historical traditions, formal poetic analysis, linguistic and close-reading criticism, literary psychoanalysis, phenomenological hermeneutics, structuralist as well as poststructuralist approaches. In addition, he has developed an innovative approach called Pragmapoetics, a philosophy of poetic language usage rooted in analytical philosophy. As an Estonian philologist and educator of future teachers he advocates an integrative approach to instruction in literature, folklore and language. His work has led to a stronger poetic foundation in the current curriculum for secondary schools. As a creative writer, Arne Merilai is able to balance abstract meta-levels with practical knowledge. With two and a half hundred publications to his credit, Merilai ranks among the most prolific leading scholars in Estonia. He is the editor-in-chief of the series Studia litteraria Estonica.


Teaching areas: 

Estonian literature and poetry, poetics and pragmapoetics, literary theory

Research areas: 

Estonian and comparative literature, poetry, poetics and pragmapoetics, literary theory, language philosophy, didactics


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Towards a Comparative Poetics: 'Unified Field Theory' Perspectives. - XXth Congress of the International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA) / Association Internationale de Littérature Comparée (AILC). Paris - Sorbonne (Paris IV), July 18 - 24, 2013. [Forthcoming.]

The Ages of Dickens in Estonian Literature: Some Comparative Perspectives. - Literary London Charles Dickens Symposium. Oxford and Cambridge Club, December 15 - 17, 2012.

How Does Literature Work: A Pragmapoetic Approach. - XVIIIth Congress of the International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA) / Association Internationale de Littérature Comparée (AILC). Universidad Federal do Rio de Janeiro, July 29 - August 4, 2007.

Pragmapoetics: A Theory of Two Contexts. - 38th Annual Conference of the Societas Linguistica Europea (SLE). València, September 7 - 10, 2005.





Merilai, A. 2011. Vokimeister: Kriitilisi konstruktsioone 1990-2011. [The Spinning Wheel Maker: Critical Constructions, 1990–2011.] Studia litteraria Estonica 11. Tartu: Tartu University Press. 615 p.

Merilai, A. 2011. Õnne tähendus: Kriitilisi emotsioone 1990–2010. [The Meaning of Happiness: Critical Emotions, 1990–2010.] Studia litteraria Estonica 10. Tartu: Tartu University Press. 351 p.

Merilai, A. 2003. Pragmapoeetika: Kahe konteksti teooria. [Pragmapoetics: A Theory of Two Contexts; partly in English.] Studia litteraria Estonica 6. Tartu: Tartu University Press. 238 p.

Merilai, A., Anneli Saro, Epp Annus 2003/2007/2011. Poeetika: Gümnaasiumiõpik. [Poetics: High School Textbook.] Tartu: Tartu University Press. 208 p.

Merilai, A., Õnne Kepp 1994. Eesti pagulaskirjandus 1944–1992: Luule. [Estonian Literature in Exile, 1944–1992: Poetry.] Collegium litterarum 6. Tallinn: Under and Tuglas Literature Centre of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. 255 p.

Merilai, A. 1991. Eesti ballaad 1900–1940. [Estonian Ballad, 1900–1940; summary in English.] Tartu: Tartu University Press. 142 p.


Merilai, A. (ed.) 2012. Täiskui: Andres Ehin. [Full Time/Moon: Andres Ehin.] Studia litteraria Estonica 12. Tartu: Tartu University Press. 440 p.

Merilai, A. (ed.) 2010. Inimesepoeg Valgel laeval: Uku Masing 100. [The Son of the Man on the White Ship: Uku Masing 100; summaries in English and German.] Tartu: Estonian Literary Museum, University of Tartu. 527 p.

Merilai, A. (ed.) 2007. – Looming – olemise kehtestamine: Viivi Luik. [Creation as a Declaration of Being: Viivi Luik; summaries in English.] Studia litteraria Estonica 9.  Tartu: Tartu University Press. 333 p.

Merilai, A. (ed.) 2005. Päevad on laused. Ene Mihkelson. [Days are Sentences: Ene Mihkelson.] Tartu: Tartu University Press. 183 p.

Merilai, Arne (ed.) 2003. Eesti ballaad: Antoloogia: XVII–XX sajand. [Estonian Ballads: Anthology: XVII–XX Centuries.] Tallinn: Tänapäev. 840 p.

Merilai, A. (ed.) 2000. Marie Under. Õnnevarjutus. Kogu ballaade. [Eclipse of Happiness: Ballad Collection.] Tallinn: Tänapäev. 101 p.

Merilai, A., Lea Tooming, Ain Kaalep (eds.) 1997. Ain Kaalep. Kolm Lydiat. [Three Lydias: Essays.] Eesti mõttelugu 18. Tartu: Ilmamaa. 599 p.

Merilai, A., Luule Epner (eds.) 1996. Kirjandusteadus: mõte ja ulm, rakendus ja uurimus. [Literary Study: Thought and Fantasy, Application and Research.] Tartu: Tartu University Press. 135 p.


Merilai, A. 2009. Türann Oidipus. [Novel.] Tallinn: Verb. 422 p.

Merilai, A. 2001. Tolmutort. [Dust Cake; poetry collection.] Tallinn: Tuum. 88 p.

Merilai, A. 1998. Merlini aare: Luulemärss 1994–1998. [Merlin’s Treasure: Poetry Wallet, 1994-1998.] Tartu: Ilmamaa. 111 p.   



Merilai, A. 2012. Of Hard Joy: Half a Century of Viivi Luik's Creations: I. Poetry. – Interlitteraria, No. 18. [Forthcoming.]

Merilai, A. 2012. Estonian Poetic Surrealism: Laaban and Ehin. – Interlitteraria, No. 17, pp. 167-179.

Merilai, A. 2009. Pragmapoetics and its Reverberations. – Living Texts: ACUME 2 Subproject 5 Proceedings. Ed. M. Kowaleczko-Szumowska. Warszawa: PWN, pp. 24–35.

Merilai, A. 2007. Pragmapoetics as Literary Philosophy. – Interlitteraria, No. 12, pp. 379–392.

Merilai, A. 2006. Regarding Pragmapoetics: Deixis. – De l’énoncé à l’énonciation et vice versa. Regards multidisciplinaires sur la deixis. Ed. D. Monticelli, R. Pajusalu, A. Treikelder. Studia Romanica Tartuensia IVb. Tartu: Tartu University Press, pp. 271–285.

Merilai, A. 2001. Poetic Speech Acts: A Hypothesis of Two Contexts. – Trames: Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences. No 2, Vol 5 (55/50), pp. 157–176.

Merilai, A. 1999. Some Time Models in Estonian Traditional, Modern and Postmodern Poetry. – Interlitteraria, No. 4. World Poetry in the Postmodern Age, pp. 264–280.

Meрилaй, A. (1990). Вопросы теории баллады. Балладность. – Поэтика жанра и образа: Studia metrica et poetica: Труды по метрике и поэтике. Peд. Ю. Talьвет. Ученые зaписки Тартуского Университета. Acta et commentationes Universitatis Tartuensis. Выпуск 879. Tartu: Тартуский Университет, c. 3–21.