After studies at the University of Michigan (BA English) and Boston College (PhD English), William Ellis came to Canada in 1976. He taught humanities for 28 years at Vanier College in Montreal, and also gave courses at Concordia University in English and liberal arts. From 2002 to 2004, he taught at Yunnan University in Kunming and at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. From 2004 to 2011, he was the senior foreign expert of the English department at Sichuan University in Chengdu, where he offered courses in Western intellectual history, art history, European literature and Canadian studies. He has taught at SFU since 2014.
He is the author of The Theory of the American Romance: An Ideology in American Intellectual History, nominated in 1989 for the John Hope Franklin Prize. He has published fiction and poetry in a number of journals, and was poetry editor of Mala Literary Journal from 2010 to 2015.
- Against the Grain of Modernism: 20th- and 21st-Century Representational Painting (55+) SCFC959
- Art: Its Origin, Diversity, Traditions, Prospects (55+) SCFC893
- Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassic Art (55+) PLUS212
- Canadian Painting in the World LIB122
- Medieval European Art: The Legacy of Rome and Constantinople (55+) PLUS171
- Mediterranean Art from the Minoans to the Byzantines (55+) PLUS136
- Rococo, Neoclassical and Romantic Art (55+) PLUS254
- The Art of the Renaissance (55+) PLUS204
- Western Art: From the Greeks to the Renaissance (55+) SCFC853
- Western Art: From the Renaissance to the Present (55+) SCFC885
- Western Poetry in the 20th and 21st Centuries (55+) PLUS114