Department of Humanities


Welcome to the Humanities Department at Simon Fraser University!
In the Humanities Department at SFU, students read and study the great texts of Western and Eastern civilizations from Ancient Greece to Modern Germany, from Taoism to Christianity, from the Italian fresco to Chinese film. Humanities courses appeal to students who are curious about many diverse areas such as classical and medieval studies, modern thought and culture, Renaissance humanism, and eastern and western religions. Crossing disciplinary boundaries, students will learn to pose questions and address concerns central to understanding the human condition.

Departmental News

The Department of Humanities, SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies and Institute for the Humanities have collectively organized a panel which brings together speakers from different disciplines to offer critical reflections on the legacies of past pandemics and challenges in the present.
This (online) panel is the second installment of the Memory and Trauma Through History and Culture series which provides opportunities for scholars to critically reflect on the nature and evolution of societies and cultures through a multidisciplinary lens.
When: Friday, November 20th at 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM PST
Registration: Registration takes place through Eventbrite. On the morning of the day of the event, the link to the webinar will be distributed by email. The webinar can also be accessed through Eventbrite.
Eventbrite link:

Department of Humanities launches student award to honour retired professor Paul Edward Dutton

Via FASS News
November 12, 2020
After 37 years of service at Simon Fraser University, Professor Paul Dutton from the Department of Humanities has retired. Dutton is an historian of the Middle Ages who introduced thousands of SFU students to the delights and mysteries of early European history and culture in such courses as HUM 105: Western Civilization, HUM 103: The Invention of the Book, and HUM 307: Carolingian Civilization...
Read the full article here >
New book, Neutral Countries as Clandestine Battlegrounds, 1939-1968: Between Two Fires sees two SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies professors contribute to understanding of Balkan states as clandestine battlegrounds during the Second World War and Cold War. Learn more about the text and the SNF conference that culminated in the book here!

Global Art Exchange and Modernism in Socialist China (1949-1979)

社会主义中国的艺术交流和现代主义 (1949-1979)
This week, on October 30 and 31, 2020, SFU’s David Lam Centre and the SFU Department of Humanities are hosting the virtual conference, “Global Art Exchange and Modernism in Socialist China 1949-1979." 

According the conference website, this event is the most recent of a series, “Art and Modernism in Socialist China,” which is an international cooperative research and publication project launched in 2017 at Taikang Space, Beijing. The focus of the workshop is “on global exchanges among left-wing artists and their impacts on Chinese art during the most rigid period of Socialist China. From artistic exchanges with Latin America to the Romanian school in Chinese art education; from discreet international exhibitions in China to underground artist groups during the Cultural Revolution.”

Organizer and SFU Humanities professor, Dr. Shuyu Kong, says panelists at the workshops this week will be presenting a complex view of contemporary Chinese art history.

Register here: Session One on October 30, 2020 + Session Two on October 31, 2020
Please join us this October 9th and 10th for a two-day online symposium entitled "Memory and Trauma Through History and Culture: Migrations". Further details, including the event schedule, can be found here.
Congratulations to Professor Dimitris Krallis, who has been promoted to full Professor, effective September 1st, 2020.
Institute Director, Samir Gandesha is participating in the Freud Museum's international online conference "Psychoanalysis and the Public Sphere: Social Fault Lines". His panel "Indelible Racism?" begins at 15:50 BST on September 20th! Book your ticket here!
Institute Director, Samir Gandesha, recently participated in a conversation with Jelte Posthumus and Harry Tupan on "Totalitarian Systems" for the Kunst & Crisis podcast. Their discussion begins at 34:58! Take a listen here!

Apply now for a research assistant position to support remote teaching! 

Investigate the nature, function, and meaning of myths in the classical world and their considerable influence on western civilization this fall.
We're thrilled to share the first Humanities Student Union newsletter! Catch up on how our students, faculty, and staff are coping in the time of the coronavirus here: "HUMSU Community Over Covid Newsletter."
Watch Humanities Professor and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at SFU, Dr. Samir Gandesha discusses his new book and a post-pandemic future in his May 2, 2020 interview: Europe in crisis and the specter of fascism (E330)

Remembering Mary-Ann Stouck (1941-2020)

Dr Mary-Ann Stouck, a long-time member of the English Department, died on April 4th. Highly regarded by her colleagues and students, she will be remembered for her outstanding commitment to university teaching and for her personal qualities of intelligence, honesty, kindness, and “self-depreciating wit.” 
Mary-Ann and her husband David were a part of the 1966 generation of SFU teachers and scholars. A graduate of McMaster University and the University of Toronto, she epitomized the primary concern of Canadian universities for exceptional undergraduate and graduate teaching. She was a Professor of Middle English at SFU over 37 years and, as a colleague remarks, “she loved teaching Chaucer.” A former student, who followed her into the profession of English, remembers “A learned and warm-spirited guide who took students seriously, and prepared them to engage with medieval tales on their own—in, of course, the deeply, expertly informed historical, conceptual context she provided…. And she gave students the very special gift of learning how to hear Chaucer in his own voice, firsthand. From her instruction, they learned habits of scholarship, the delights that follow the discipline.” 
She was a knowledgeable and effective committee member in the English Department and a highly successful administrator.  Late in the 1980’s, the Co-coordinator of the Humanities Minor Program invited her to teach an occasional course on the ‘Saints.’ But when Paul Dutton became Chair of History, “she agreed to step in as Co-coordinator (from 1993-1995) and spear-headed the drive to create a major program in Humanities and set up our joint major and minor programs with other departments. It was thus Mary-Ann who put us on a course to departmental status, which happened under Steven Duguid.” She also played a key role in the Canadian Society of Medievalists in the 1990’s.
After her retirement Mary-Ann served the West Vancouver SPCA with great dedication and, reflecting her love of animals, wrote two children’s books: Jeannie Houdini, A Hamster's Tale and A Fine Winter's Cap. Also in the 1990’s she was appointed as a board member to the Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation, published Medieval Saints: A Reader (1999), and the extremely popular A Short Reader of Medieval Saints (2009) which is not just an abbreviated version of her earlier book but “a quick transfusion of Saints for the busy student and reader.”
Most striking was Mary Ann’s great courage during the final two years of her life, after she had been officially diagnosed as suffering from mesothelioma.  She continued to meet friends and to say her good-byes without a trace of self-pity. When breathing became more difficult for her and ventilators were in demand at hospitals and care homes, she turned to MAiD for assistance. She died at home with her family around her, with dignity and grace.
By Sandra Djwa (with Tirthankar Bose, Paul Dutton, Janet Giltrow, and Kathy Mezei)
Join HUM graduate and undergraduate students for a night of trivia and pizza on March 26th! 
Congratulations to Dr. Shuyu Kong for the SSHRC Small Research Grant she received for 2020-2022 to support a project “Rediscovering Chinese Women Artists Studying in France (1910s-1940s)”!
Interested in higher scholarship in classical, medieval, and renaissance thought and culture, Asian literary and religious traditions, modernity and its critique? Explore the Humanities through cross-disciplinary, text and problem-based research projects in our thesis-based MA program! Apply by FEBRUARY 15, 2020 to be considered for the $15,000 BC Graduate Scholarship.
Read Dr. Shuyu Kong's article on Chinese Australian artist Shen Jiawei and his history paintings in Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Vol. 18 no. 5 (Sept/Oct. 2019)!
During her fall 2019 stay as Residential Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Humanities and Social Sciences, Zhejiang University, Dr. Shuyu Kong worked on a research project on Taoist Influences on Chinese landscape poetry and painting. The above photo was taken at the talk she gave during her fellowship on teaching Chinese Classics as Great Texts in North America.
Read Dr. Samir Gandesha's "Canada’s Battle Against First Nations Shows Slide Toward Authoritarianism" here
Dr. Samir Gandesha will be presenting at the Annual Conference of the Yale Program for the Study of Anti-Semitism, "The Authoritarian Personality" next month. 
Check out HUM MA Alum, Maggie Ka-ying Tsang's FASS 2020 News spotlight: "SFU researcher bridges Traditional Chinese Medicine with First Nations communities"! Congratulations Maggie as you continue building your research alongside and across communities!
Professor Samir Gandesha will be a commentator on the panel discussion "Palestine: The Settlers' Town is a Strongly Built Town: Fanon in Palestine" at Birkbeck College on Dec 8th. He will also speaking at the "Authoritarianism Today" conference at the Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin on December 12th and will be presenting a keynote address at the "Adorno and the Media" conference at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe on December 14th and talking about SFU's Institute for the Humanities as a model for critical public engagement at Vienna's Academy of Fine Art on December 16th. 
Find information for the Saturday, November 16th Institute for the Humanities event "Kashmir: Photography as Witness and Memory" here
Dr. Samir Gandesha, director of Simon Fraser University's Institute for the Humanities, will give three public lectures at the University of Winnipeg (U of W) on November 4th and 5th, 2019. For more information, follow this link to The Uniter, Winnipeg's weekly urban journal:
In celebration of a newly-painted mural, our Chair, Paul Crowe, is participating in this storytelling event, titled "Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea: Chinatown Community Engagement Events," on Saturday, October 5th. 
Congratulations to Maggie Tsang on convocating this October! Maggie successfully defended "Chinese Medicine as Hermeneutic Knowledge? On the Role of Classical Works such as Huangdi neijing suwen in Chinese Medicine" in July. She stopped in after the ceremony to take photos with her senior supervisor, and Humanities Department Chair Dr. Paul Crowe. Maggie is now a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU. 
Congratulations to Alexis Wolfe on successfully defending "Symbolic Collisions: Short-Circuits in the Libidinal Economy"! Thanks to Dr. Paul Dutton for chairing and to the members of her examining committee Dr. Samir Gandesha (Sr. Supervisor), Dr. Gary McCarron (Supervisor), and Dr. Svitlana Matviyenko (Internal Examiner). 
'Below the Radar' podcast - Episode 23 - SFU's Director of the Institute for the Humanities, Samir Gandesha, talks about the neo-liberal personality and the rise of authoritarianism around the world
Congratulations to HUM Professor David Mirhady for his July 2019 election as Vice-President of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric! He will succeed to be its President after the 2021 meeting in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and host the 2023 meeting in Vancouver. Keep tuned!



Co-sponsored by ​SFU's Institute of Humanities and South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD)

This lecture is free, however, the discussion following requires (free) pre-registration and has limited capacity. 


Join us for a free public lecture by our visiting scholar, Dr. Valerian Rodrigues. This appointment is made possible through the Hari and Madhu Varshney Visiting Scholars Program in Indian Studies. 

The event will take place on Monday, April 15 at the SFU Segal Building (500 Granville St, Vancouver), 5:30—8:00pm.

On 21-22 March, Dr. Samir Gandesha will participate in an international workshop  on "What is 'New' About the New Authoritarianism?" organized by the Department of the Sociology of Law, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

JOIN US IN SURREY ON FEB 20TH for our visiting scholar's first free public lecture 

Dr Rodrigues' "The Agonistic Engagement Between Ambedkar and Gandhi" will begin at 6pm in SFU Surrey 2600, with a reception to follow. Everyone welcome!


Humanities Roundtable Discussion Series!  

Please join us every first and third Thursday of the month in a graduate student-led series of presentations on current themes within the Humanities. Our next installment "Chinese Culture and the Lunar New Year" is Feburary 7th in AQ 5118 beginning at 12:30pm. See our roundtable event page for more information. Hope to see you there! 

Dr. Samir Gandesha - Podcast Appearance 

What does a socialist conception of free speech look like? Can we really trust the capitalist state to protect the free speech rights of socialist critics? As free speech has become an increasingly explosive issue within our liberal societies, Oats for Breakfast chatted with Samir Gandesha of Simon Fraser University to get a better sense of what’s going on. Along the way we talk about the politics of free speech, the hypocrisy of the Right on this issue, and what a potential socialist alternative may look like.

Listen HERE

Study the writing of various Latin authors and explores the interplay between Latin and vernacular literatures, their roots in the past, and their role in creating the Western canon!

EXPLORE INDIAN DEMOCRACY this spring THROUGH THE LITERATURE OF ONE OF ITS KEY CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORS with the preeminent Ambedkar scholar, Dr Valerian Rodrigues

An examination of Eastern and Western Christendom from Late Antiquity to the 12th-Century Renaissance emphasizing religious, political, cultural, and social change.

Immerse yourself in the world of Pieter Bruegel! Each class will concentrate on several of his paintings and drawings, and we shall approach his art through a series of different techniques and modes, trying to understand him and his time.

Join Dr Eleanor Stebner, J.S. Woodsworth Chair, in reading the biographical writings of Primo Levi, Jane Goodall, Muhammed Ali and more

Past Events

Centre A and The Cinematheque, with support from SFU David Lam Centre and SFU Department of Humanities, welcome renowned Vietnamese-born artist, writer, and scholar Trinh T. Minh-ha for a special two-night program of her acclaimed film work. Subjective, self-reflexive, and intellectual, infused with feminism and anti-colonialism, and offering a dizzying array of sights and sounds, the award-winning “anti-anthropological” films of Trinh represent a startling reinvention of the documentary form. Read More

Quick Links

Institute for the Humanities

Freedom of Speech in the Arts: Voices from the Left

Torrent, Trickle: The Exploratory By Andrew Czink

Canada and the UN Convention Against Torture

Truth Before Reconciliation: Reframing/Resisting/Refusing Reconciliation

 Humanities' Social Media