Yooper Stereotypes Addressed

The Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center at Northern Michigan University will present "Where the men are men and the women are, too: stereotypes of the Yooper." The free talk by Finlandia University professor Hilary-Joy Virtanen will begin at 7 p.m. Monday, March 16, in 1320 Jamrich Hall.

The popular culture of the Upper Peninsula is full of stereotypes about Yoopers, both male and female. Often funny, yet sometimes inaccurate, these stereotypes can be seen on television and in movies, music and literature. Regardless of their truth, do they portray “Yoopers” in a positive or negative light?

Virtanen teaches Finnish and Nordic studies at Finlandia. She is an ethnologist specializing in Nordic and Upper Midwestern cultural practices, including festivals, traditional arts, oral genres, music, folk dance, ethnic and national dress, and heritage language maintenance. 

Historical moments that interest her include 19th century national romanticism, particularly in Finland, as well as 1905-1920, a period when American workers' culture developed certain hallmarks during intense labor unrest and the entrance of the United States into World War I. This historical period is reflected in the present in existent labor music and laborlore (especially songs associated with the Industrial Workers of the World) and through monuments and museums documenting industrial heritage and the lives of workers. 

Virtanen's research in the iron and copper mining regions of the Upper Midwest and the post-industrial city of Tampere, Finland, are related through Finnish American migration and certain similar historical developments in each place.

Prepared By

Kristi Evans
News Director

Categories: Around NMU