G4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)
Kynällä ja sanalla : Yrjö Karilas poikien kasvattajana 1910-1960-luvuilla (2021)

Julkunen, L. (2021). Kynällä ja sanalla : Yrjö Karilas poikien kasvattajana 1910-1960-luvuilla [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Jyväskylä. JYU dissertations, 458. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-8926-2

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Julkunen, Lauri

ISBN: 978-951-39-8926-2

Journal or series: JYU dissertations

eISSN: 2489-9003

Publication year: 2021

Number in series: 458

Number of pages in the book: 1 verkkoaineisto (306 sivua)

Publisher: University of Jyväskylä

Publication country: Finland

Publication language: Finnish

Persistent website address: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-8926-2

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel


This dissertation examines the life of Yrjö Karilas (1891–1982) and his work in boys’ informal Christian education from the 1910s to the 1960s. The focus is especially on the gendered ideals and educational methods apparent in Karilas’ work. The approach employed is thematic biography, which refers to studying a specific phenomenon as exemplified in the life and experiences of an indi-vidual. The source materials include Karilas’ personal documents, published works and articles, as well as archival sources related to Christian boys’ work. Karilas was the son of a Lutheran clergyman and spent his childhood in Piippola, later moving to Helsinki to study Russian language at the university. However, in 1918 he started working for the YMCA movement, where he pursued a long career in developing and shaping the field of boys’ work. Karilas also exerted considerable cultural influence through his published works, namely biographies and non-fiction for youngsters. Throughout his career, Karilas utilized this position rooted in the intersection of Christian and secular cultures in his educational work. Christian boys’ work in Finland after the Civil War of 1918 was tied to the culture and aims of the victorious faction, the Whites. However, some boundaries were also drawn. Boys’ work focused on shaping identities that committed boys to Christian-patriotic values, but also encouraged a model of a Christian masculinity that opposed the militarism inherent in extreme nationalism. The model of an ideal man that began to guide boys’ work was someone internally strong, a man who inhabited the secular culture without abandoning his principles or Christian belief. However, such a model fell into crisis in the spiritual and political upheaval of the 1930s. By the end of the decade, Karilas experienced a religious revival, interpreted in this study as a symptom of the crisis of the previously held ideal of Christian masculinity. After the revival, Karilas pursued evangelical work among men. There, reliance on self-education and secular activities were replaced by commitment to the brotherhood of faith. Here, Karilas’ educational work is conceptualized as strategies of apologetic masculinity. Apologetics, the rational defence of religion, was transformed into negotiations about identities. Such a reform of masculinity was a response to the development where religiosity was problematized in male communities.

Keywords: boy work; boys; upbringing; youth; history; gender; masculinity

Free keywords: boys' work; boys; informal education; history of youth; lived religion; gender; masculinity; YMCA; 20th century

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2021

Last updated on 2022-19-08 at 19:29