World Lit student Ally Wong, program advisor Katie Nordgren, and professor Azadeh Yamini-Hamedani at the gala celebration for the 10-year anniversary of SFU's World Literature Program.

World Literature, Students, Community

World Literature Program celebrates 10 years

November 10, 2017

By Christine Lyons

SFU’s World Literature Program hosted a gala celebration last Thursday, November 2nd to mark the program’s 10th anniversary. Founded in 2007, the World Literature Program was originally housed at SFU’s Surrey campus before moving to Burnaby Mountain in 2015.

The gala event was well attended by faculty, current students and alumni alike. Notable alumni in attendance included Bonnie Tulloch (2014) currently a PhD student studying internet memes at UBC’s iSchool, and Daniel Poirier (2011) whose short story “A Most Amazing Thief” won 1st Place in this year’s Vancouver Writers Fest Adult Writing Contest.  

"We see ourselves as a team, as a family, and we're looking to grow." - Melek Ortabasi, director, World Literature Program
Students participate in a round of "World Lit Trivia" at the gala.

At the gala, current director of World Literature, Melek Ortabasi announced that the Caledonia Awards, awarded to its most community-engaged students, will be endowed in the near future. The Caledonia Awards will, starting next year, provide two $1000 student awards thanks to a generous, anonymous donor.

World literature faculty, alumni, and current students hold the program in high esteem and speak passionately of their experiences in the program. Kyle Miller (2010) says the World Literature Program provides “a diverse view of literatures ranging from Russia to Germany and Japan to Africa,” and gives student the “opportunity to look at themes within literature concerning identity, relations/perceptions between East and West, Human Rights and more.”

Lyre Magazine is the student-run, creative literary publication started by World Lit students in 2010.

In addition to exposing students to the range of literature available in the “global literary landscape,” Ortabasi says the program is also training students to “negotiate their own position in it through openness, wonder, critical thinking, self-reflexivity, and an awareness of the centrality of translation to all human interaction, whether literary or otherwise.” World Literature is committed to student engagement. Since 2010, it has offered students a venue to showcase their own creative talents with Lyre Magazine, the undergraduate student-run creative literary publication. Since 2015, it has held an annual student conference hosted by the Program and the World Literature Student union.

Ortabasi says big things are coming for the program and she’s excited for the next phase of growth. “Strengthening our already excellent program is a top priority for me,” says current director, Melek Ortabasi. “Our spirit and our curriculum are unique and, as is obvious to me and my colleagues, we have always been a home for smart, engaged, passionate students from many backgrounds. We see ourselves as a team, as a family, and we're looking to grow."