Nicolas Kenny

Associate Professor
Office: AQ 6015
Telephone: 778-782-5815

Areas of Study: AMERICAS, EUROPE


This instructor is currently not teaching any courses.


I arrived at SFU after completing a PhD in a joint programme organised by the Université de Montréal and the Université Libre de Bruxelles. I am a member of the Montreal History Group and of the Centre de recherche Mondes Modernes et Contemporains in Brussels.

Research Interests

I have always been fascinated by large urban centres, and my primary research interest is in the cultural history of cities, specifically in the way people live in them and interact with their unique atmospheres. Most of my work focuses on Montreal and Brussels, which I examine from a comparative and transnational perspective. I am particularly interested in the way urban dwellers interiorise their experiences with these environments, and relate to them on a subjective level, ranging from their bodily encounters with the sights, sounds and smells of the metropolis, to the emotional language with which they narrate their experiences.  Various circumstances have also brought me to work on two rather different projects.  The first examines how the development of radio broadcasting contributed to shaping urban culture in mid-20th century Belgium.  The second is a history of British Columbia's Francophone population, concentrating especially on the development of French-language public education in the province.  I also regularly comment on provincial and federal politics for Radio-Canada and other local and national media outlets.



  • “Forgotten Pasts and Contested Futures in Vancouver,” British Journal of Canadian Studies, 29.2 (September 2016), p. 175-197.
  • “City Glow: Streetlights, Emotions, and Nocturnal Life, 1880s–1910s,” Journal of Urban History, published OnlineFirst 10 April 2015, forthcoming in print.
  • "Emotions and City Life," introduction, and guest editor for a special issue of Urban History Review – Revue d’histoire urbaine, 42.2 (Spring 2014).
  • “Gouverner pour et par le corps,” in Léon Robichaud, Harold Bérubé and Donald Fyson (eds), La gouvernance montréalaise depuis quatre siècles : de la  ville-frontière à la métropole.  Montreal: Éditions MultiMondes, 2014, 57-70.
  • “Changing Cities, Moving Bodies: Industrial Modernity in Montreal and Brussels,” in Robert Beck, Ulrike Krampl and Emmanuelle Retaillaud-Bajac (eds), Les cinq sens de la ville : du moyen âge à nos jours. Tours: Presses universitaires François-Rabelais, 2013, 243-256.
  • “Corporeal Understandings of the Industrialising Environment.” in Stéphane Castonguay and Michèle Dagenais (eds), Metropolitan Natures: Urban Environmental Histories of Montreal. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, (2011.) p 51-67
  • “Une vraie cité infernale: Le discours hygiénique, sensoriel et moral dans l’organisation spatiale montréalaise et bruxelloise, 1880-1914.” in Fernando Lópes Mora (ed) Modernidad, ciudadanía, desviaciones y desigualdades : por un análisis comparativo de las dificultades del paso a la modernidad ciudadana (Córdoba : Universidad de Córdoba, Servicio de Publicaciones, 2010), 473-482
  • "From Body and Home to Nation and World: The Varying Scales of Transnational Urbanism in Montreal and Brussels at the turn of the 20th century." Urban History 36.2 (August 2009.) p 223-242
  • "Entre misère et splendeur : les banlieues industrielles et l'image de la ville moderne, Montréal et Bruxelles au tournant du 20e siècle." Ètudes canadiennes 60, (hiver 2007.) p 181-196
  • "La représentation de l'industrie dans les guides bruxellois et montréalais au tournant du 20e siècle." Cahiers de la Fonderie : Destination Bruxelles. Le tourisme, un secteur d'avenir, no 34 (2006.) p 16-21
  • "Je cherche fortune": Identity, Counterculture and Profit in Fin-de-siècle Montmartre." Urban History Review \ Revue d'histoire urbaine 32, no 2, (March 2004.) p 21-32
  • "Writing Citizenship with Lightning: Mass Culture and the Politics of Exclusion in Progressive America." Cahiers d'histoire 22, no 2, (automne 2003.) p 25-49

Teaching Interests

My teaching interests at both the undergraduate and graduate levels revolve around urban, cultural, environmental, comparative and transnational issues, with a focus on Canada and Quebec. I also teach in the French Cohort Programme in Public Administration and Community Services.

Graduate Supervision

Current Graduate Students:

  • Bruce Dyck

  • Gisele Dubeau


  • Arnold Hirsch Award for Best Article in Urban History published in a scholarly journal in 2015: "City Glow: Streetlights, Emotions, and Nocturnal Life, 1880s-1910s," Journal of Urban History, April 2015. 
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Insight Development Grant, with Magda Fahrni (PI) and Jarrett Rudy.  "The Railway in the City: Industrial Montreal, 1850 to 1950," (2016-2018)
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Standard Research Grant. “Emotional Metropolis: Industry, Empire and Entertainment in Montreal, 1880s-1930s,” (2011-2012)
  • Université de Montréal Prize for Best Thesis, 2008
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada Graduate Scholarship, 2004-2007
  • Fonds québécois de recherche en science et culture, docotoral scholarship, 2003
  • Communauté française de Belgique - Commissariat général aux relations internationales, doctoral scholarship, 2007-2008
  • Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, doctoral scholarship, 2007

News about Nicolas Kenny