Oliver R. Baker’s first degree was in civil engineering. He has over forty years of consulting engineering experience in Canada and South-East Asia working on the design and construction of a variety of resource development projects. Commencing in 1999 he has also pursued an interest in the intersection of Literature and History at the University of Victoria completing a BA in 2005 and an MA in 2007. For the latter his research involved development of a reconstruction and a re-interpretation of the card game in Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock. Taking advantage of access to academic databases and other library services through continued registration at Simon Fraser University much of this work has now been published. Using a historicist approach, he has published two full-length essays and a number of shorter expository articles in peer-reviewed journals covering a number of seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century authors including Shakespeare, Rochester, and Pope. His Humanities MA thesis at SFU is provisionally titled "Herodotus: Historian, Proto-Biographer, and Proto-Feminist."
Graduate Student Profiles
Andrew Bruce has an MA in Political Science from SFU with a degree focus on political theory and representation. His current research focuses on the political work of artist Joseph Beuys and its influence on the ecological movement. PhD. thesis title: 'Joseph Beuys: Aesthetic Politics and the Ecological Crisis.'
Meghan Grant obtained her Bachelor’s of Arts and Certificate in Religious Studies at SFU. She is currently in the Master’s program in the Department of Humanities. Her graduate work focuses on food and religion, and how food practices like vegetarianism, veganism, and the raw movement are by nature, religious. Much of her research focuses on the work of Dr. Charles Taylor, whose "A Secular Age" has been instrumental to her graduate career. Her other research interests include both Occidental and Eastern religions, New Age religion and the Occult, secularity, food ecology, green religion and the environment, the culture and history of food, the treatment of animals, and the systemic use of language concerning agri-commercial activities.
Tanya Tomasch grew up in Austria, where she studied the violin and learned German. After completing high school there she moved to Vancouver where she continued her violin studies at UBC under Marc Destrubé. In 2007 she changed her career path and decided to focus on writing. She completed her BA in English from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, where she had studied under Prof. N.P. Kennedy, Prof. Fred Ribkoff and Prof. Puqun Li, and joined SFU's Humanities department as a grad student in the Fall of 2013 with Jerry Zaslove as her supervisor. Having read and loved Ludwig Wittgenstein and Thomas Bernhard for many years, her thesis will examine the style, method and character of Ludwig Wittgenstein in the works of Thomas Bernhard with the help of Mikhail Bakhtin and Jan Patoka.
Ka-Ying Tsang (Maggie)
Maggie, driven by her interest in environmental issues, took up Environmental Science and Management as a major for her Bachelor degree in Hong Kong. Later on, realizing that key problems lie deeper in human nature and its cultural conditions, she extended her focus to the study of Humanities. After finishing an MA in philosophy, she chose to continue her inquiry at SFU. Being particularly interested in the cultural-philosophical background of Chinese medicine, she is now working on a research project, “Chinese Medicine as Hermeneutic Knowledge? On the Role of Classical Works such as Huangdi neijing suwen 黃帝內經素問 (Yellow Emperor's Inner Class: Basic Questions) in Chinese Medicine,” under Professor Paul Crowe’s supervision. Apart from her thesis work, she is participating in a project on an exhibit of Chinese herbalist shops at Burnaby Village Museum.
Alexis Wolfe completed her BA in Sociology at UBC (2017) and is currently an MA student in the Department of Humanities. Her interests center largely around mysticism, existentialism and phenomenology. Using a biocentrist model, she hopes to reimagine consciousness as existing beyond locality, matter and causality and as an idea allow transcendence of the subject/object distinction built into the language and perceptual apparatus of Western philosophical tradition. In the midst of what is being called the "psychedelic renaissance' she intends to use psychedelic phenomenology to investigate archetypal conceptualizations of death, the body, the ego, unconscious and dreams to meet the ontological insecurity of the post-postmodern age of automation. She will draw from the more mystical-leaning dimensions of the work of Martin Heidegger (Dasein, the 'Clearing'), C.G. Jung (synchronicity, collective unconscious, dreams) and Simone Weil (Metaxu, affliction), as well as others.
Stephanie has a BSc in Biological Sciences (2013) and a BA in Sociology (2017), both from the University of Alberta. The sociology courses that she took as arts options during her BSc deeply impacted her perspective, resulting in her pursuit of a BA After Degree. Throughout her studies, Stephanie developed an interest in continental philosophy, environmental sociology, and social theory. For her thesis, she will examine how the instrumental rationalization of modern society may have problematized the ability to assert authentic action on both an individual and societal level, focusing specifically on approaches to environmental problems such as the Degrowth Movement and Ecological Modernization. She will draw upon the works of Martin Heidegger, the Frankfurt School, Max Weber, and other related theorists.
Houman Zavareh’s work focuses on 19th and 20th century philosophy. His research concerns the resurgence of authoritarian politics, particularly in relation to neoliberal ideology and economics. He holds a BA in philosophy and sociology from Simon Fraser University.
Laura’s MA research focuses on written and artistic representations of noble violence in France in the Central Middle Ages. Her thesis attempts to relate such representations to the often obscure agenda of their authors, as well as to a historical reality that remains very much elusive even today. Once completed, the thesis hopes to offer one possible answer to a vastly tangled question: was the Central Middle Ages as violent an age as modern historians have almost unanimously described it to be?
Education: B.A. (Hons) English-Italian (2001), PhD Philology (2013); PDP (2012). Professional activity: Italian language and literature instructor (2000-2010).
Charles Michael Campbell
Michael’s graduate work focuses on the debate between Nancy Fraser and Axel Honneth, titled "Recognition or Redistribution? A Political-Philosophical Exchange." The tensions of this debate and these two pivotal terms are far-reaching and inform discussions on all Human Rights and questions of human agency. However, Michael primarily is interested in how the tensions of this exchange manifest in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, the political platforms of Vancouver’s COPE and even the 2016 Presidential race between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Chris is an MA student in SFU’s Department of Humanities with an interest in the interface among legal theory, myth, semiology, critical theory and post-structuralism. With a background as a lawyer, Chris is interested in how a multi-disciplinary re-reading of Canadian legal cases that deal with corporations can lead to a fresh critique of the widely accepted idea in law that corporations have the same rights as a natural person. In addition to being an MA student, Chris teaches law courses at Capilano University and Langara College. In his spare time, he hangs out with his two daughters and plays classical guitar. Badly.
Morgan has an interdisciplinary background, mostly in music, anthropology and philosophy. She is currently an MA Student in the Department of Humanities at SFU. She is interested in the Frankfurt School and related theorists on art and critical aesthetics. In particular, she is interested in the utopian dimension of the Frankfurt School, and the Romantic critique of capitalism. She is exploring the idea of art as transformative experience and as site of resistance. Her developing thesis, "Toward a Critical Theory of Fantasy," is focused on developing a critical theory of fantasy as a part of a broader category of theory for radical speculative fiction. Morgan also enjoys singing, writing, and cuddles with her cats.
I discovered the Department of Humanities in my 3rd year of undergraduate studies. At the beginning of my BA I took whatever courses that caught my interest, but never felt like I had found a field of study that I could embrace and would, in turn, embrace me. On the first day of my first humanities course my professor posed a question that changed my life and thinking forever. He asked “what type of thinking might allow us to respond to our planetary condition?” I have pursued this question ever since, and it became the focus of my M.A. thesis, completed in the Department of Humanities in 2013. My thesis, “Modernity or Capitalism?: Technology in Heidegger and Marx” attempted to read Martin Heidegger’s phenomenological notion of world and late work on technology alongside Karl Marx’s analysis of capitalism. When read in proximity, I argued, the two thinkers allowed a greater understanding of the key forces that shape human action and thought in the globalized era. By undertaking this work in the Humanities MA program, I was able to write a thesis that was not oriented towards providing definitive answers, but instead one that called me to respond and think for myself.
Since graduating, I have continued to work through the questions raised in my MA thesis in the context of university education. I am now working on my PhD in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at the University of British Columbia. Graduate studies in the Humanities Department was a life-changing experience that shaped my path as both a human being and a student. It prepared me for a future academic career, but more importantly, a life devoted to “lov[ing] the questions”.
Meg's successfully defended her thesis, "Herodotus; the Greek Struggle for Freedom" in 2014. Since then she has been translating Aristotle's "Politics" and Cicero's "de Inventione," and investigating Aristotle's perspective on political freedom and its reception in select Renaissance cities.
Meg holds two B.A. degrees, one in Liberal Arts and one in English Literature, and three M.A. degrees: Medieval History (McMaster), English Literature U. of Toronto), and the most recent one here at SFU. in Humanities. Meg taught in high schools in Ontario and B.C. for twenty years. Travelling and volunteer work has rounded out her years. She loves cats and dogs!
Huyen Pham completed both her BA and MA in the Department of Humanities. Her research interests are classical, renaissance, and modern European thought and culture, and her MA thesis on Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre, titled "Breaking the Gaze: Ressentiment, Bad Faith, and the Struggle for Individual Freedom," was successfully defended in January 2014 under the supervision of Dr. Samir Gandesha and Dr. Ian Angus. Since graduation, she has been working as the Program Assistant for the Institute for the Humanities at SFU and Co-managing Editor for the Institute's online journal, Contours.
I began in the Humanities Department as an undergraduate student working towards a Post-Baccalaureate diploma. I initially intended to attend law school after graduation, but I quickly became drawn in by the larger questions posed from within the Humanities tradition, especially questions about the socio-historical relationship between humanity and nature. This led me to apply to the Master’s program in the Humanities Department, which I completed in 2016 under the supervision of Dr. Samir Gandesha. My MA thesis, “The Negativity of Place: Capital Accumulation and Ecological Limitations,” focused on the metabolic rift between humanity and nature, and examined how place can constitute an important site of resistance to the abstract and nihilistic logic of unlimited capital accumulation. I focused on the theoretical justifications for petroleum pipeline development in British Columbia, and I contrasted these justifications with the resistance of place-based rationality in Indigenous communities within Canada. Drawing on the theoretical framework of the Frankfurt School of Critical theory and Hannah Arendt’s politics of space, I examined the instrumental domination of place to reveal that another way of understanding the built environment is struggling to emerge.
Since graduation I have continued to develop the questions raised while researching and writing my MA thesis. I am now working on my PhD in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. My research aims to examine Canada’s global role in the extractive sector and that role’s perpetuation of social inequality alongside the material consequences for natural ecosystems. I propose a study that attempts to better understand the processes and the perception of the processes that comprise the understanding of the dynamics of the circulation of capital. I intend to study capital’s relationship to the development of what I call wasted places within the context of global extractivism. My experience with the Department of Humanities and the Institute for Humanities at SFU has been foundational to my work and tremendously important for my personal development.
Yang Tang defended her thesis, "Between Fantasy and Reality: Time-Travel Romance and Media Fandom in Chinese Cyberspace" in 2014. She now works in a private educational institute as an Assistant Manager, administrating campus operation and providing academic advice to domestic and international students in pursuit of higher education. Yang also pursues her passion in teaching Mandarin as a foreign language, by working as a part-time Mandarin teacher. She is planning to obtain her Teaching Certificate and work within secondary schools in BC in the near future.
Lorenzo Simon Tomescu
Lorenzo's thesis, “The Labours of Heracles as Labours of Love” interprets the fifth century tragedy Herakles by Euripides. The text analyses the significance of the play, within its mythological tradition from the perspective of psychoanalysis, Girardian and Nietzschean philosophy. In addition to academic research and writing, Lorenzo draws inspiration from visual art. In 2016, he participated in the annual Modern Languages and Cultural Studies Creative Connections conference held at the University of Alberta. Lorenzo presented a research paper complemented by artworks he produced during the course of his studies. He believes that his artwork reflects his learning of literary theory and adds to the expression of his understanding of social philosophy. In terms of Lorenzo’s career, he maintains positions working as a Community, Youth and Vocational support worker. His future career aspiration is that of an educator in the area of Special Education and the establishment of his own art studio.