Archived below are activities and events organized by our MA students and faculty members for graduate students in Global Humanities and beyond.

Recent socials and events

2023 Activities

Workshop on Memory and Politics in Southern Europe | Apr 5 @ 2:00–4:00PM | Room 2200, SFU Harbour Centre

Organized and co-sponsored by SFU’s SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies, Institute for the Humanities, and Department of Global Humanities. This programming is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).

This workshop invites students to join a discussion on late 20th century dictatorships in Southern Europe (Spain, Greece, and Portugal); the emergence of authoritarian regimes, censorship, youth movements fighting for the reinstatement of democracy, and the cultural production of these years. The discussion will also explore the legacies of that era in contemporary politics along with relevant references made in contemporary culture.


Professor Kostis Kornetis teaches contemporary history at the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM). He has taught at Brown University, New York University, and the University of Sheffield, and was CONEX-Marie Curie Experienced Fellow at Carlos III, Madrid, and Santander Fellow in Iberian Studies at St. Antony’s College, Oxford.


Eirini D. Kotsovili studied History, Hispanic studies at McGill University (B.A.) and Literature at University of Oxford (M.St, D.Phil), where she was also Junior Dean (Somerville College). She is a member of the Stavros Niarchos Centre for Hellenic Studies, the Institute for the Humanities, as well as an Associate member of the Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies.

Past socials and events

2022 Activities

Humanities Interdisciplinary Graduate Symposium on Transformation and Change | Mar 25–26 @ 9:00AM–4:00PM | AQ 6205 (and Zoom), SFU Burnaby

The Graduate Symposium, organized and led by graduate students, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.


“A crowd of small metamorphoses accumulate in me without my noticing it, and then, one fine day, a veritable revolution takes place.”
–Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea

We live in a world inundated with change and transformation. At every turn, technology seems to be evolving, politics are changing, and each day our social world becomes just a little bit different. In and of itself, change holds no intrinsic moral meaning outside the meaning human agents prescribe to it. For this reason, change and transformation occupy a precarious position within our world. Who are the agents of change, and how do these changes impact our daily life? How do we approach change in the social world? How can we ensure that the change we initiate aims to do the right thing? What transformation is needed to move the dial of humanity forward? With these questions in mind, we would like to invite you to the Humanities Graduate Student Caucus Symposium: “Transformation and Change,” an interdisciplinary, student-led graduate conference to be held on March 25th and 26th. Our conference will be hosting graduate students from around the world to present their research on this dynamic topic. We hope to see you all there!

The Humanities Graduate Caucus wishes to thank the Department of Humanities, the SNF Center for Hellenic Studies, and the Institute for the Humanities for their generous support.


Friday March 25th, 2022

9:15–10:00: Registration & Refreshments
10:00–10:15: Opening Address (Zoom link: see link for Panel I)

Panel I: (Zoom link:

10:15–10:45: “Angels of History and Ghosts of Past Futures: Reflections on the Issue of Imagination in the Socio-Political Sphere,” Natalia Botonaki, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain
10:45–11:15: “Breaking Brahminical Realism,” Harsh Trivedi, Simon Fraser University, Canada
11:15–11:30: Coffee/Snack Break

Panel II: (Zoom link: see link for Panel I)
11:30–12:00: “Metaphor and Metamorphosis: The Becoming-Animal in Kafka and Apullius,” Gian Carla D. Agbisit, Universite de Picardie Jules Verne, France
12:00–12:30: “Towards an Education of Truth as the Vital remedy in an era of Global Crisis,” Keren Levina, Columbia University, USA
12:30–14:00: Lunch

Panel III: (Zoom link:

14:00–14:30: “Beyond Binaries Through Queer Archeology,” Moira Riggs, Simon Fraser University, Canada
14:30–15:00: “Crip/Queer Temporalities and potentials for Futurity,” Elk Paauw, University of Western Ontario, Canada
16:00: Pub Debrief 

Saturday, March 26th, 2022

9:15–10:00: Registration & Refreshments
Panel IV: (Zoom link:

10:00–10:30: “Digital Technologies: Dystopia or Potential?”, Giannis Perperidis, University of Ioannina, Greece
10:30–11:00: “Anthropocide: A Moral Breakdown,” Gaspard Lemaire, École Normale Supérieure, France
11:00–11:15: Coffee/Snack Break

Panel V: (Zoom link: same link as Panel IV)
11:15–11:45: “Hinge Ecology: An Interspecies Approach to Understanding Knowledge Landscapes,” Nikita Prokhorov, University of California Irvine, USA
11:45–12:15: “Our Emotional Environment: Emotion-Based Knowledge as a Project of Environmental Resistance,” Ashlynn Whalley, McMaster University, Canada
12:15–14:00: Lunch

Panel VI: (Zoom link:

14:00–14:30: “The Grammar of Oppression: How Word Viruses Contribute to the Subjugation of Indigenous Groups on the Canadian Prairies,” Daniel Kemp, University of Regina, Canada
14:30–15:00: “Punk in Absentia: Lessons from a Raucous Revolution,” John Foerster, Simon Fraser University, Canada
15:00–15:15: Break

Panel VII: (Zoom link: same link as Panel VI)

15:15–15:45: “Women About Development: On Ethel Wilson’s Female Bilungroman ‘The Innocent Traveller’,” Guifen Jiang, University of Victoria, Canada
15:45–16:15: “‘Ever so Far Away in the Palm of Your hand’: Spatial Disjunction and Echoes of Courtly Love in George MacDonald’s Lilith: A Romance,” Julia DaSilva, University of British Columbia, Canada
16:15–16:30: Closing Address
16:30: Pub Debrief


Natalia Botonaki, “Ghosts of past futures: toxic nostalgia and the rise of fascism in the Global North”

“What haunts the digital cul-de-sacs of the twenty-first century is not so much the past as all the lost futures that the twentieth century taught us to anticipate.” Fisher, M (2012) “What is Hauntology?” 

Mark Fisher spent a good part of his academic career exposing the ways in which our culture – aesthetically, politically, economically speaking – is devoid of creativity and imagination, of any sort of what Franco “Bifo” Berardi might call futurability. Berardi in the eponymous book speaks of techno-linguistic automatisms shaping future behaviour; with that term he describes the technical speech acts which determine, and most often cap, the potency of action or thought. In light of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, and the somewhat stunted responses of global “watchdogs,” the repercussion of this imaginative drain have become dangerously eminent. In a text published on February 27th, Berardi suggests the term “psychotic geopolitics” to describe the situation unravelling in Ukraine, while Naomi Klein (March 1st) opts for “toxic nostalgia.” This presentation will be considering the intoxicating effects that imperial pasts – real or imagined – appear to be having, as inextricably linked to the inability to conceive of viable futures. Focusing on the Global North, we will first be looking at Fisher’s schema of an impotent and unimaginative Left in conjunction with the spectre of Marx that Derrida invokes in the homonymous book. The evocation of spirits of past glories, will neatly lead us into the terrain of toxic nostalgia as the bitter antidote to increasing feelings of impotence and loss – again, both real and imagined – which we will be applying to interpret the rise of far-right ideology. Last, we will be tentatively touching upon some possible remedies for this malaise by suggesting a two-way approach: first, a reckoning with the past, inspired by Benjamin’s seminal text Theses on History and Ariella Azoulay’s recent publication Potential History; both texts speak to the necessity of acknowledging the horrors of a history written by winners as the first step in the process of mending the world we live in. Second, we will be looking at the present as the site of immanent futures following Berardi and reflecting on his proposal that it is cognitarians (like ourselves) who have the ability, via careful examination of the current moment, to create the ground for new futures to emerge.

Harsh Trivedi, “Breaking Brahminical Realism”

Abstract to be added soon.      

Gian Carla D. Agbisit, “Metaphor and Metamorphosis : the Becoming-animal in Kafka and Apulius"

In the recent years, there has been a discussion regarding the idea of the anthropocentric epistemic bias, and together with it, there is a growing awareness in relation to the over-privileging of the human perspective. We have been pushing forward ecological awareness, and also animal rights. But even before these, we have already seen these ideas figure in literary texts, tackled in addition to the problematization of the human condition.  

Both Apulius and Franz Kafka wrote on the subject of a human becoming animal. In this paper, I will be exploring the dual dimensions of this interpretation. I argue that taken as a metaphor, becoming-animal explores a more profound understanding of the human condition, and yet, on the other hand, taken as a literal metamorphosis, this becoming-animal sheds light to animality and nature, which reverses the privileged priority of the anthropocentric logic. I will be using the concept of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in reading the two texts. In this paper, I will talk about: first, (1) the bifurcation of animal and human and how we privilege the human point of view, second, (2) the metamorphic process, and the metaphorical reading of that specific animal in the texts of Apulius and Kafka, and third, (3) becoming-animal as a concept.

Keren Levina, “Towards an Education of Truth, as the Vital Remedy in an Era of Global Crisis” 

In the unprecedented modern period, when the pressures and challenges of reality are overwhelming, philosophical wisdom indicates a path forward by tapping internal resources of the human being, resources to be found in social bonds, the social-moral realm of experience, or simply put, the connections between people. 

Some of the most outstanding philosophers, from Socrates, Kant, Schopenhauer, James, to Dewey, have put forth the radical idea that our knowledge and experience of reality in its default, external forms of separation, is entirely false and misleading. And that the root of this false knowledge of reality is the incapacity of feeling reality through others, experiencing and knowing one’s continuity with others. This view is coherent with Eastern or spiritual teachings as well.  

As John Dewey points out repeatedly in his profuse writings, education’s primary aim should be to nurture positive experiences in the social-moral realm. Other philosophers support this view, emphasizing that human beings are destined to know and experience a sublime, true reality of beauty, perfection, timelessness, and continuity that is achieved as a result.

These philosophical directions for education are radical and oppositional to the default, external, neoliberalistic or self-centered path of social progress, which entrenches and furthers all sorts of social divisions, dualism, or lack of continuity. The approach of the philosophers toward social continuity as a means of true knowledge and social progress, is thus a revolutionary one. Its implementation would destabilize and undermine the very foundations of Western society and its societal, political, economic, and other institutions, which are grounded in neoliberalistic, external, self-centered values. 

The threats and crises of the modern reality provide a setting in which philosophical wisdom, with its radical approaches to education and social progress, may finally become relevant, practical and useful, despite its extremely adversarial position to the status quo. By institutionalizing practices of social continuity, positive social connections, as the most important skills and values to be nurtured in schools and beyond, education can shift, for the first time, to a focus on truth. This would, indeed, undermine and even replace the narrow, false, former reality of dualism or externality. In the modern times of global crisis, it is possible that society and its institutions may finally be ready and willing to embrace such a radical change.

Daniel Kemp, “The Grammar of Oppression: How Word Viruses Contribute to the Subjugation of Indigenous Groups on the Canadian Prairies”

The death of Colten Boushie at the hands of Gerald Stanley on August 9th, 2016, once again brought into focus the deep fault lines that exist between Indigenous groups and the descendants of white European settlers on the Canadian Prairies. Storying Violence, by Gina Starblanket and Dallas Hunt, reframes Boushie’s death from an Indigenous perspective, thereby highlighting the grammar of oppression that upholds the entrenched white settler power structures which led to Stanley’s eventual acquittal. Oppressive language strands have proliferated on the Prairies, spreading through white settler society much the same way viruses would, infecting their hosts with the harmful ideas contained within them. 

Citing specific language strands identified in Storying Violence, I analyse how such word viruses have infected every sphere of settler colonial society. My inquiry will show that the true origin, meaning and effects of these word viruses are well-hidden from scrutiny as they are unquestioningly regurgitated by their hosts. This hidden nature of word viruses poses an enormous challenge to any effort at disrupting the oppressive language that is reproduced from one generation to another. 

In providing a tentative proposal that might lead to healing, I suggest that a turn towards Indigenous languages, which are closely connected to the land, would provide a constructive starting point in establishing a more balanced power dynamic on the Prairies. This recommendation is informed by my experiences as a South African living in post-apartheid South Africa, where a recognition of the importance of promoting Indigenous languages has been useful in furthering the ongoing process of reconciliation.

John Foerster, “Punk in Absentia: Lessons from a Raucous Revolution”

It is clear that in 2022 the world stands at an impasse. The realities of late Neoliberal Capitalism decades after its inception have spelt out a variety of social, political, and economic issues for many living under its influence. This reality has only been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. While contextualizing these issues, it becomes imperative that we analyze different periods of political unrest to better understand our current situation. If the adage of history repeating itself holds true, then one can look to the political movements spawned in response to Neoliberalism’s inception. Specifically, the Punk movement of Vancouver during the late 1970s through mid-1980s. In conversation with many of its prolific figures, my research seeks to generate a wholistic understanding of youth and social movements against neoliberal structures and policy. Through understanding how resistance actors functioned during Neoliberalism’s creation, one can better learn about the realities of our current environment of protest and popular upheaval. 

Giannis Perperidis, “Digital Technologies: Dystopia or Potential?”

In the past twenty years radical changes have happened regarding technology. Digital technologies have penetrated every dimension of public and private life. The recent conditions of COVID-19 that pushed many people to digital work or the technological advances such as the project of Facebook (Meta) show that what we need today is a careful approach to the digital world and its consequences. The first part of the announcement will try to present the significance of approaching the Internet through some of the ideas developed by Mark Coeckelbergh. The Belgian philosopher of technology has focused on how digital technology affects the lives of people and uses examples drawn from performative arts to present it. The main idea is that we no longer think of technology as distinguishable from personal or social life but it co-writes and co-directs our lives. A very important question that arises is “who” is the co-director? Who creates the technology that co-directs the lives of people? This question can be approached through the Critical Theory of Technology of Andrew Feenberg. The second part of the announcement will focus on Feenberg’s approach to the Internet. Through his theory, Feenberg examines the interests that shape a technology’s design, something which is directly correlated to the social consequences of the specific technology. Regarding the Internet and the digital world, some think of it as a huge market, focusing on its economic implications. But many recent social movements have become strong through this huge network. It seems as the Internet as technological system is in flux and hasn’t yet been granted a specific social meaning. Feenberg refers to the technological artifacts’ hermeneutical dimension following the Science and Technology Studies field and expands this view to the Internet introducing its “consumption” and “community” models. Each model has specific participant interests and tries to establish a specific meaning to the technosystem, the Internet. Feenberg’s approach to the Internet focuses on the “community” model. His analysis brings out the potentials of this technology toward democratic rationalization of society. Are we going towards a digital dystopia or are there any alternatives arising from the very technologies we use every day? This is one of the most important questions of our time.

Gaspard Lemaire, “Anthropocide: A Moral Breakdown”

As they have become the primary force of change on this planet, human beings have entered a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. Today, fossil fuels are alone responsible for more than one in five premature deaths worldwide: air pollution causes at least 8 million deaths each year. Even more worrying are the effects of climate change, which threatens in the medium term several hundred million human lives. This condition is the result of a set of actions carried out knowingly, the criminal dimension of which cannot be denied. The exact nature of the crime in question, however, needs some clarification. While genocide consists in set of targeted actions aimed at the destruction of particular groups of people, the victims of anthropic environmental changes face death or intense suffering regardless of their nationality, religion, or ethnicity. The term of crime against humanity is no less inadequate, since the victims of climate disruption are not killed intentionally. As for the more recent notion of ecocide, it certainly captures the destruction or irreparable damage of ecosystems, but it fails to account for the destruction of countless human lives. In order to account for the novelty of the impending moral breakdown, a new concept has to be coined: anthropocide. This word is from the Greek anthropos, “human”, and the Latin suffix cide, “to kill”. The term of anthropocide refers to a set of deliberate actions or omissions that result in the destruction of the essential foundations of life of multiple human groups, and that are likely to ultimately lead to the extermination of these groups. These actions or omissions are characterized by the fact that they significantly contribute to climate disruption and consequently to the increase and intensification of climatic disasters (droughts, hurricanes, extreme precipitation, coastal flooding, etc.), so that they are simultaneously at the origin of the following phenomena: land degradation, destruction of ecosystems, decrease in food production and shortage of basic resources. As a consequence, these criminal actions or omissions lead not only to the disorganization of economic life, of political and social institutions, and of the culture of the groups they harm, but also to geopolitical instability and massive forced migrations, as well as the violation of fundamental rights of individuals: right to life, health, freedom, personal security and dignity. Anthropocide thus prejudices the majority of the members of the human community. While states are the only organizations that can pass legislation to prevent anthropocide, they fail to do so and should bear responsibility for their inaction. The concept of anthropocide must therefore be integrated into international law so that the responsibility of states is finally recognized.   

Nikita Prokhorov, “Hinge Ecology: An Interspecies Approach to Understanding Knowledge Landscapes” 

Placing knowledge in the environment through the synthesis of contemporary Wittgensteinian hinge epistemology, process philosophy, and various theoretical works on interspecies relations, this presentation articulates a way in which to bridge epistemological gaps between human, non-human animal, vegetal, and broadly animate beings. Ludwig Wittgenstein articulates hinge commitments as hinges, like those on a door, upon which the rest of our knowledge system turns. Hinge commitments allow for us to have certainty in fundamental beliefs without justification. Utilizing this concept of hinges as commitments to world-pictures, which can be presented through action, it is argued that one can see knowledge and culture developed in beings which may otherwise prove difficult to relate to for contemporary humans. Using the cosmology created throughout Alfred North Whitehead’s process philosophy this presentation articulates a view where knowledge exists in the environment, all living things are constantly performing intelligent and creative decision making, and animacy is broadly expanded. In a world where the actual existing things are the events occurring within it, the data required for each event exists in the environment and is selected by the event itself in creative self-assertion before releasing new data back into the world. Thus, each event or collection of events which comprise bodies of organisms, ecosystems, and all active things is continuously processing information and expressing intelligent choices for pursuing its own novel purpose. These actions and the data processed can be viewed through a Wittgensteinian lens to attribute certain basic epistemic notions to all events and animate beings, going as far as claiming that each event has its own epistemic system without sinking into relativism. In dialogue with indigenous knowledge systems this epistemological system places the basic commitments of all animate beings at the same foundational level and forms a creative space from which speculative philosophy can begin an attempt at assembling knowledge systems of the non-human without imposing prevalent anthropocentric notions. This mode of understanding interspecies relations and spaces allows for a reevaluation of what constitutes animacy, knowledge systems, and culture into a broadly non-anthropocentric reality.

Ashlynn Whalley, “Emotion-Based Knowledge as a Project of Environmental Resistance”

The intentional and systematic devaluing of emotions is both a product and requirement of the success of colonial, capitalist, and patriarchal structures. Not only is “reason” held as a requirement for being taken seriously as an epistemic agent, but a particular kind of reason: namely, that which lines up with the accepted standards of those in power. 

Emotions are seen as opposed to reason – but the presence of emotions in testimony must be taken as further evidence that something has happened to elicit that kind of emotional reaction, especially for members of BIPOC or other marginalized groups, rather than evidence against the validity of their testimony. 

By revaluing emotions as an important kind of information, we can establish a common language of resistance and solidarity. This work is significant on an inter and intrapersonal level (by validating our own experiences), but also constitutes a powerful tool for dismantling colonial and patriarchal structures. 

I will take up this project of revaluing emotions as an avenue to revaluing our relationship to the environment. Anti-colonial and anti-patriarchal work is necessary for reconnecting to the inherent and intrinsic value of our natural environment – and I will argue that returning to a practice of acknowledging and valuing our emotions in intricately connected to the work being done in both environment and human wellness. 

My argument proceeds in three parts. First, I will argue that embracing emotions as a kind of information opposes the colonialist and patriarchal emotion/reason divide, and the devaluing of alternate forms of knowledge more generally – this epistemic injustice persists in how those in power designate what can be identified as “legitimate” information and testimony. Second, I will work to expand Alison Bailey’s concept of Knowing Resistant Anger to other forms of emotional experience and expression, and argue that all emotions tell us something, but not all emotions are credible testimony. Finally, I will argue that establishing the importance and validity of emotion-based knowledge provides an opportunity to embrace other ways of knowing – and can act as a common language to support larger projects of resistance and solidarity, especially in relation to reconnecting to and revaluing the environment.

Moira Riggs, “Beyond Binaries Through Queering Archeology: A Poststructual transformation” 

For over 20 years, queer archaeologists and archaeologists employing queer theory have attempted to dismantle strongly rooted systems of heterosexism and heteronormativity within their field. Despite parallels in the emergences of feminist and queer theories throughout the 1980s, political change within the field of archaeology was focused on feminist thinking. While acknowledging the strengths of the feminist approach, queer archaeology emerged in the late 1990s beyond feminist thought to critique the shortcomings of feminist attempts at creating an equal playing field for all archaeologists. Queer theory informs an archaeological method that moves beyond binary thought in which archaeology, its parent field anthropology, and many humanitarian disciplines, are strongly entrenched. 

In this presentation I explore the feminist backdrop of queer archaeology, the move beyond feminist principles, and define the queering method stemming from the poststructural method of deconstruction. Archaeological case studies are applied to demonstrate the method. I further suggest that the queering approach aids in understanding people across space and time and provides a widely untapped research direction for the humanities. Queering indicates resistance to binary societal norms that bind humanity, exclude individuals and communities deemed deviant, and inhibit change. In reacting against these norms, living and studying as queer embodies the principles of transformation and change.

Elk Paauw, “Crip/Queer Temporalities and Potentials for Futurity”

With ongoing environmental collapse, carceral capitalism, and the erosion of democratic systems, the subject of futurity looms large in our lives. Within the fields of queer, trans, and disability studies, there has been a pivot towards looking at the alternative temporalities of those who are differently embodied as opportunities for imagining more radical potential futures for humanity and our planet. While both crip and queer temporalities and futures have been explored in special issues of Transgender Studies Quarterly (Vol 6 #4, Trans Futures), South Atlantic Quarterly (Vol 120 #2, Crip Temporalities), and across many books, looking into the shared history of queer and crip temporalities and where how they inform one another has been overlooked. Commonalities between queer, trans, and disabled subjects historically can be examined to help think of potential futures collectively as acts of revolt. Where queer and disabled subjects are at odds with normal timelines within capitalism and cultural hegemony, this speaks to the creativity of marginalized subjects and their ability to survive and thrive outside of normative systems that seek to crush them. I combine notions of crip and queer time as delineated by Ellen Samuels in her essay “Six Ways of Looking at Crip Time”, and Elizabeth Freeman in her book Time Binds: Queer Temporalities and Queer Histories” and show how chrononormativity is disrupted by both queer and disabled embodiments. How timelines and historical records of disabled and queer/trans people have been disrupted through active destruction (for example, the eradication of disabled and queer people in the Holocaust, the AIDS crisis, and the destruction of the Institute of Sexology in 1933), and how queer and disabled subjects break from chrononormative timelines for general participation in society such as work and reproduction. Then I argue for radical negativity by engaging with Lee Edelman’s No Future and queer nihilism as well as the anarchist collective baedan’s Journal of Queer Nihilism, and articulate the notion of jouissance as a rallying point for queer and crip revolt. In conclusion, by bringing together notions of queer and crip temporalities to examine our shared history, we can develop a radical approach to futurity as a site for liberatory struggle.

Guifen Jiang , “Women about Development: On Ethel Wilson’s Female Bildungsroman The Innocent Traveller”

In a pioneering study of Wilson’s work, Desmond Pacey discusses the difficult complexities of categorizing the fiction of Wilson. While some argue that Wilson is a “novelist of manners,” since she possesses a remarkable perception of the subtleties of social conduct in a specific place, others contend that she is a “novelist of character,” since she devotes more of her enthusiasm to individuals than to society (Pacey 16). It can be derived from P. K. Page’s The Blind Men and the Elephant that there is no point in defending the practice of studying Wilson’s work from the perspective of the manner or the character because no single perspective can accurately capture this elephant metaphor. In response to these discussions, this paper first analyzes the general features of Wilson’s novels and then puts forward a salient but partially ignored perspective in the study of Wilson’s work: female development, which demonstrates that she is a female writer with her essential “feminine sensibility” as distinctive as Jane Austin and Virginia Woolf (Pacey 22). 

Julia DaSilva, “Ever so far away in the palm of your hand:” Spatial Disjunction and Echoes of Courtly Love in George MacDonald’s Lilith: A Romance

“Now and then, when I look round on my books, they seem to waver as if [...] another world were about to break through [...] as if some that loved me were talking of me” (MacDonald 247–8). 

At the end of his spiritual exile-and-return arc in George MacDonald’s 1895 fantasy novel Lilith, protagonist Mr. Vane finds himself in the same library from which he started—except that his inner transformation by his redemptive love for soulmate Lona has left the space of his home transformed. Continual disjunction between Vane’s everyday world and its physically-overlaid overflowing symbolic space uses the standard exile-and-return trope of a space transformed by love to hold out the possibility of a redeemed world where thought and action are fully unified: a world where relationships are life-giving and renewing. Vane’s redemption, which might be read as the process of closing this gap between thought and action, is, however, accomplished by the reclamation of the figure of Lilith, whose repentance and return to God’s love serve to demonstrate to Vane that such a return is always possible (Gaarden 20)—a solution many have argued, given Lilith’s compelling, continual refusal to return, is not wholly convincing (McGillis 47). Alexandra Kollontai’s comparison between the ways ideals of courtly love (in the chivalric romance) and love-marriage (in the modern novel) fail to contain love’s genuinely transformative, revolutionary potential (“Make Way For Winged Eros”), provides an entry point for considering how the echoes of courtly love tropes, in particular those of mutual inaccessibility and transformation through love, characterize MacDonald’s use of overlapping yet separate space in Lilith’s vision for closing the gap between thought and action. I proceed through a comparative analysis of two moments in chivalric poetry, the wild hunt scene in Sir Orfeo (ll. 303-348) and Guy and Felice’s reunion scene at the end of the Stanzaic Guy of Warwick (ll. 3397-3564). These narratives have similarly contradictory resolutions framed as genuine, “whole” returns; but where the primarily allegorical spaces of Guy and Orfeo leaves courtly love tropes in insoluble contradiction with marital relationships, the fantastic symbolic dream-space in Lilith, drawing on echoes of these tropes but creating a space where those contradictions can be held, let in a hint of the more expansive “love-comradeship” towards which Kollontai gestures. Finally, I turn to Frederic Jameson’s work on radical fantasy and Jemma Deer’s work on radical animism to propose how examining courtly love’s trajectory through modern fantasy suggests a more general reading method for accessing this life-giving overflow.


Workshop Series on Crisis of Neoliberal Capitalism and Resistance in Latin America | Mar 10–31 @ 10:00AM–2:00PM | HC 2205, SFU Vancouver

The workshop series, organized by the Institute for the Humanities and led by Roberto Longoni and Rogelio Regalado, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.


The main intention of this workshop is to open a space for dialogue and critical reflection on some social phenomena that we understand as an expression of the deep crisis that neoliberal capitalism has been going through since at least 2008. This, of course, does not mean that before 2008 neoliberal capitalism was in a state of harmony and absence of crisis. Expressions of rage and discontent such as the Zapatista uprising in 1994, the Battle of Seattle in 1999 or Genoa in 2001, can be interpreted as evident signs of the instability of the dynamics of financialization and indebtedness that capitalism has had to assume more broadly since the late 1970s in order to sustain its logic of valorization. However, the year 2008 is emblematic in this sense, since, hand in hand with the collapse of the banks and the great stock market centers, various signs of resistance and rebellion sprouted with force throughout the world, which to this day are recognizable by their power, creativity, contradictions and heterogeneity.

In this regard, a wide range of analyses and interpretations have been established, which have mainly focused on understanding the struggles from a normative and liberal point of view, an issue with which we profoundly differ and which we are interested in discussing. Above all, because we sense that the tensions and complexities inherent to these struggles cannot be reduced to the framework of interpretation of democratic liberalism. Our argument in this regard (which of course we also open to discussion) is that the signs of resistance and rebellion that have emerged and have been maintained in the era of neoliberal capitalism are an expression of a crisis of its own foundations, that is, of the form of social relations determined by the value that sustains it.

Specifically, we propose to dialogue and reflect on three phenomena that seem to us important and current, not only to be thought in their geographical and historical specificity, but also to be thought from the concerns that may arise from the context of crisis and resistance in Canada: the fascist advance in global terms, with emphasis on the Mexican case, and the possibility of an anti-fascist resistance; the Chilean revolt of 2019 and its relation to a historical constellation in which the tension between fascism and socialism persists; and the actuality of the Zapatista struggle and the challenges that emanate from it around the possibility of thinking “other” ways of resisting and building a non-hegemonic and truly inclusive globalization.


Mar 10: "Capitalism and the Global Fascist Advance: Theoretical Elements and the Mexican Case"
Mar 17: "The 2019 Chilean Revolt and the Specter of Fascism/Communism"
Mar 24: "Zapatista struggle and the Challenge of a Non-hegemonic Globalization"
Mar 31: "A Presentation on the Research Conducted at the Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades - BUAP"

Detailed Schedule

"Crisis of Neoliberal Capitalism and Resistance in Latin America".pdf

2021 Activities

No socials or events scheduled due to COVID-19.

2020 Activities

Humanities Student Trivia Night | Mar 26 @ 4:30–6:30PM | GSS Lounge, MBC 2212, SFU Burnaby (Cancelled Due to COVID-19)

Come for Trivia Night and earn prizes! Open to everyone. Free pizza and snacks provided. Brought to you by the Humanities Graduate Student Caucus and Humanities Student Union.

Workshop on Relativism and Obscurantism Vs Knowledge of Reality | Mar 12 @ 1:00–3:00PM | HC 1510, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the Institute for the Humanities and led by Newton Duarte, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.


Obscurantism has been assuming increasingly-aggressive forms in many countries in which political leaders are elected by spreading discourses that outright attack several social groups, including scientists, teachers, artists, and journalists. In my country, Brazil, right-wing political leaders claim that the regime that ran in the country from 1964 to 1985 was not a dictatorship and there was no censorship, torture, and murder. They claim that the idea of a dictatorship was invented by leftists who, in turn, insist that there are sufficient and indisputable evidences of the crimes committed by the dictatorial government. The evidences exist and are, in fact, indisputable, but the right-wing ideology uses the strategy of discrediting the people, groups, and institutions that present those evidences. The truth is in dispute. It turns out that a considerable part of leftist intellectuals, influenced by postmodern ideas, have spent a long time criticizing the use of the word “truth” by insisting that “truth” is a positivist illusion, that we cannot know reality itself, but only construct narratives about what we conventionally call reality. That is to say, reality would be a subjective construction of each individual or social groups. This epistemological relativism is also defended by neoliberalism, as it is the case with Hayek, who incorporated in his arguments for the freedom of economic agents, Michael Polanyi’s epistemology in which tacit knowledge is assumed to be the most important type of knowledge for social practice. Epistemological relativism is accompanied by cultural relativism that rejects the possibility of comparing knowledge because it is rooted in different cultures that were not comparable to each other. Relativism is not the best answer to obscurantism because both are negatively positioned in relation to knowledge of reality. If we admit that it is not possible to know what reality is, then we are also admitting that we cannot know what reality can become and will not, therefore, know what the different future alternatives would be and what actions would be most favorable for us to achieve more humane forms of reality.

2019 Activities

Humanities Roundtable Discussion Series | Feb 7–Apr 18 @ 12:30PM | AQ 5118, SFU Burnaby

The Humanities Roundtable, organized and led by graduate students, is a series of discussions, presentations, and debates on contemporary themes in the Humanities. The sessions were open to graduate students and faculty.


Feb 7: Chinese Culture and the Lunar New year
Paul Crowe and Maggie Tsang (MA student), "Daoist Spiritual Mediums in Hong Kong & Vancouver"

Feb 28: Marxist History
Corey Abell, "On the Commodification of Affective Narratives within Canada’s Culture of Hockey"

Mar 21: Community Research Ethics
Scott Neufeld, "Research 101: Empowering Community Members in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to Develop Local Guidelines for Ethical Research with People Who Use Drugs"

Apr 4: To Publish or to Perish, Should that be the Question?
Group Discussion, "Professionalized Academia; The "Grievance Studies" Experiment; Publication Standards and Expectations"

Apr 18: Educational Challenges within Universities
Naghmeh Babaee, Discipline-specific Academic Literacy Development of Multilingual Students in Fine Arts

2018 Activities

Conference on Utopian Spaces | Nov 23–24 | HC 7000, SFU Vancouver

Contours Journal and the Institute for the Humanities at SFU hosted Utopian Spaces, an interdisciplinary, student-led graduate conference that aimed to reinvigorate conceptions of the often stigmatized category of utopia—the notion that things could be otherwise, the collective desire for a radical alternative—as they pertain to social space. The organizers proposed to think utopia in spatial terms, and space in utopian terms, allowing for the elucidation of transformative potentialities. Yet the utopian space or enclave is just as likely to veer into dystopia. Utopia and dystopia coexist, interact, and conflict, reflecting unmet needs and desires. The conference was, therefore, interested in the convergences and tensions between the utopian and dystopian, in terms of both existent and envisioned representations of such spaces.

Learn more

Workshop on Antonio Gramsci: From Historical Materialism to Philosophy of Praxis | Oct 19 @ 10:00AM–1:00PM | HC 2200, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by Alessandra Capperdoni and led by Professor Giuseppe Vacca from the Gramschi Institute in Rome, Italy, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public with a keen interest in Gramsci’s thought—his radical re-envisioning of Marxism rooted in the notions of politics as fight for hegemony, “passive revolution,” and philosophy of praxis as the culmination of the intellectual and moral reform movement of modernity.

2017 Activities

Workshop on It Ain’t Necessarily So; Or the Contingency of Necessity | May 26 @ 10:00AM–12:00PM | HC 1510, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the Institute for the Humanities and led by Bruce Baugh, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.


From Aristotle to Husserl, philosophers have argued that “first principles” cannot be deduced from prior premises and cannot be grasped through sensory experience (as sensory experience apprehends only what is fleeting and contingent), but are given through a type of intellectual intuition which apprehends first principles in their self-evidence (Evidenz, évidence). Faced with the self-evidence of first principles, the mind is compelled to accept them. Because they are objects of intellectual understanding, first principles can only be universal, changeless, necessary and eternal. Yet there may be other forms of experience which are just as self-evident and compelling, but which are based on experiences that are peculiar to a particular individual. As involuntary and compulsory as the logically self-evident, the self-evidence of certain affective states (anxiety, boredom, jealousy, etc.) may give rise to a truth which is valid only for the individual who experiences it. The psychological and existential necessity involved in such compelling and self-evident subjective and particular experiences even forms the basis for the experience of being to compelled logically self-evident truths. In that sense, contingent and a posteriori experiences of an encounter of a subject with some external power that forces that person to think can be said to be the basis for what are taken to be necessary and a priori truths. All necessity, in the final analysis, is a posteriori and contingent. As Deleuze puts it, “The principle of reason... in philosophy is a principle of contingent reason... there is no good reason but contingent reason; there is no universal history except contingency.” 

Workshop on Recent Developments in Governmentality Studies: Counter-conduct | Mar 29 @ 10:00AM–12:00PM | HC 1510, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the Institute for the Humanities and led by William Walters, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.


This seminar looks at the idea of counter-conduct which Foucault outlines primarily in his lecture series Security, Territory, Population (1977–78)—a series that, in retrospect, has come to be most closely associated with the theme of governmentality. Foucault's writings on governmentality have had a profound impact right across the social sciences and humanities, yet only very recently has the theme of counter-conduct enjoyed sustained and critical attention on the part of scholars. Among the questions we will ask in this seminar are: What is counter-conduct? How does the theme feature in the trajectory of Foucault's thought, including his idea of governmentality, and how does it differ from analyses which juxtapose power and resistance? What new light might counter-conduct shed on our understanding of contemporary struggles and conflicts? To ground our understanding of counter-conduct the seminar will consider some recent cases within the field of migration and borders.

Workshop on The Leap vs the Elite: Progressive Populism in the Age of Trump and Trudeau | Feb 22 @ 10:00AM–12:00PM | HC 2050, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the Institute for the Humanities and led by Martin Lukacs, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.


One thing is now clear: the future is radical. Whether it will be defined by climate chaos, spiralling inequality and surging racism, or a justice-based transition toward a society based on care for the planet and each other, is up to us. In 2015, a broad coalition launched the Leap Manifesto, a vision for how Canada could get off fossil fuels while making the country far more fair and humane. It argued that the only way we can address the climate crisis is by simultaneously fighting for economic equality, racial and gender justice, and Indigenous rights. This kind of silo-busting people's agenda is the best answer to the centrist neoliberalism of Justin Trudeau or the US Democrats, as well as the right-wing populism that has grown in their shadow. So how do we build this intersectional left populism in Canada? What's next for the Leap?

Workshop on Enlightenment and Idealism | Jan 23 @ 10:00AM–12:00PM | HC 2200, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the Institute for the Humanities and led by Douglas Moggach, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.


Hegel affirms that the great discovery of the Enlightenment is that everything exists for the subject. As a self-conscious demand that all political and economic institutions, religious beliefs, cultural values and identities must prove their validity in light of critical reason, the European Enlightenment has close affinity with the ethical programmes of German Idealism. This paper examines the complex patterns of political thought that originate with Leibniz, and that are taken up by various proponents of idealism, notably Kant, Fichte, and members of the Hegelian School. In their conceptions of modern subjects and of their interactions, and in their defence of the autonomous use of reason, against authoritarian impositions and stultifying orthodoxies, the idealists preserve and enrich the Enlightenment heritage, with implications for recent debates on politics and culture.

2016 Activities

Workshop on Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter Laudato Si: “On Care For Our Common Home” | May 27 @ 10:00AM–12:00PM, HC 2200, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the J. S. Woodsworth Chair in the Humanities, led by John Zucchi, and with responses from Rabbi Philip Bregman, Donald Grayston, and Jennifer Pierce, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.


This workshop is for those who are interested in a more in-depth discussion of Pope Francis and the issues raised in the public lecture. The main point of the lecture and followup workshop is to facilitate an interfaith conversation about the Pope's stance on issues like climate change, the plight of refugees, and human rights, to name a few. Rabbi Philip Bregman, Donald Grayston, and Jennifer Rae Pierce will be participating in this conversation by presenting their responses to Dr. John Zucchi's lecture, in which he addresses Catholics, non-Catholics, non-Christians, and those of no particular faith adherence.

Workshop on Canadian Women Shaping Diasporic Religious Identities | May 7 @ 10:00AM–12:00PM | HC 2520, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the J. S. Woodsworth Chair in the Humanities and led by Becky R. Lee, Tak-ling Terry Woo, and Kate Power, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.


Using the chapters of Canadian Women Shaping Diasporic Religious Identities as an illustration, we will explore how focusing on women’s participation in their religious traditions complicates our understanding of diaspora and settler communities. The principal question for this seminar, then, is how we might best capture the beliefs and or devotional aspects of the lives of women who engage in traditional ways of religiosity. You will have the opportunity to work with excerpts from real conversations—and we will pay particular attention to the potential of discourse analytic methods to bring some complexity and nuances to confront the negative stereotypes in terms of which religious individuals and groups are often depicted.

Workshop on Husserl and America: Reflections on the Limits of Europe as the Ground of Meaning and Value for Phenomenology | Mar 29 @ 7:00–9:00PM | HC 2050, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the Institute for the Humanities and led by Ian Angus, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.


This paper investigates phenomenological philosophy as the critical consciousness of modernity beginning from that point in the Vienna Lecture where he discounts Papuans and Gypsies, and includes America, in defining Europe as the spiritual home of reason. Its meaning is analyzed through the introduction of the concept of institution (Urstiftung) in Crisis. It argues that the historical fact of encounter with America can be seen as an event for reason insofar as the encounter includes elements previously absent in the European entelechy. The conclusion shows that phenomenology must become a comparative, Socratic, diagnosis of the planetary crisis of reason. The entelechy of reason that becomes evident through the concept of institution should be understood less as a renewal of a pre-existing tradition than as an exogenic encounter and incursion of an outside that together define an event as new in relation to its tradition.

2015 Activities

Workshop on Politics in Particular: From Primo Levi to Freedom and Being in the works of Hannah Arendt and Baruch Spinoza | Nov 23 @ 10:00AM–12:00PM | HC 2200, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the Institute for the Humanities, co-sponsored by SFU's School for International Studies, and led by Greg Feldman, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.


The post-Cold War era of liberal hegemony, purporting to usher in freedom and global democracy, has arguably alienated more people from party politics than ever before. Scholars often invoke two thinkers—Hannah Arendt and Baruch Spinoza—to make sense of this situation and the varied political movements that have emerged in response to it. Both Arendt and Spinoza, perhaps uniquely among major Western political thinkers, sought an understanding of sovereignty and action based upon the perspectives of particular speaking subjects as opposed to apriori abstract principles. Yet, despite this fundamental similarity, they differ considerably on such key political issues as thinking and reason, will and action, and, ultimately, freedom and being. Starting with Primo Levi’s story of his ten days “outside both world and time”—between the evacuation of Auschwitz and the arrival of Soviet forces—this presentation compares and contrasts these issues in Arendt’s and Spinoza’s work to try to better understand contemporary political action.

Workshop on Arendt, Truth, and Epistemic Responsibility | Nov 10 @ 4:00–6:00PM | HC 2200, SFU Vancouver

The workshop, organized by the Institute for the Humanities and led by Yasemin Sari, was open to graduate students, faculty, and members of the public.


Taking seriously Arendt’s concerns regarding judgment and decision in texts such as “The Crisis in Culture,” I argue, contra Martin Jay, that Arendt’s understanding of decision does not promote a “decisionistic” model of sovereign politics. While Jay’s interpretation of decision is antithetical to Arendt’s own account of politics as the space for human plurality, I maintain, by contrast, that in its relation to judgment and meaning, decision constitutes a necessary political principle for preserving human plurality. Recognizing that Arendt is not explicit about this, my aim in this paper is to introduce a new concept for understanding the relationship between responsibility and decision into her political framework: the principle of “epistemic responsibility.” Epistemic responsibility becomes a guiding principle in political action, which rests on a thin notion of truth that can provide a more robust account of political action understood as the “accompaniment of speech and deed.” In this sense, this principle allows for a reinterpretation of the relationship between “factual truths” and “meaning-creation” on pluralistic grounds; this, in turn, allows for the emergence of a political space of plural human togetherness as the “topos of responsibility.”