Department of Humanities


Welcome to the Humanities Department at Simon Fraser University!
In the Humanities Department at SFU, students read and study the great texts of Western and Eastern civilizations from Ancient Greece to Modern Germany, from Taoism to Christianity, from the Italian fresco to Chinese film. Humanities courses appeal to students who are curious about many diverse areas such as classical and medieval studies, modern thought and culture, Renaissance humanism, and eastern and western religions. Crossing disciplinary boundaries, students will learn to pose questions and address concerns central to understanding the human condition.

Departmental News

The Department of Humanities at Simon Fraser University invites applications for a full-time appointment of the J.S. Woodsworth Chair in Humanities. This position is advertised as open rank and will be filled by either an Associate Professor or Full Professor. Applications will be reviewed starting September 1, 2022, and will continue until the position is filled.
Visit our employment page to learn how to apply.
The Department of Humanities at Simon Fraser University invites applications for a full-time appointment of a scholar who will hold the 5-year, renewable Hellenic Canadian Congress of BC Chair in Hellenic Studies, starting July 15, 2022. This position is advertised as open rank and will be filled by either an Assistant Professor or Associate Professor. Applications will be reviewed starting November 30, 2021, and will continue until the position is filled.
Visit our employment page to learn how to apply.
We are deeply saddened to share the news that Dr. Jerry Zaslove, professor emeritus in the Simon Fraser University Departments of English and Humanities, passed away on June 23rd, 2021.
A lovely obituary by English's Dr. Stephen Collis can be found on the department's website here. 
Dr. Samir Gandesha's book, Aesthic Marx, is now available in an Italian translation here.
He also has an article on Post-Human Fascism, available in Spanish here. 
The Vancouver Province published a letter to the editor from our own Jason M. Brown, about the pandemic's shadowy side-effect of loneliness and isolation in our so-called "Green City". The nurturing of nature has its limits!

Read it here. 

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Emily O'Brien

Thursday, May 6, 5:30PM–7:00PM, Via Zoom Webinar (Registration Required)

Organized and sponsored by SFU's Institute for the Humanities

Register HERE

In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Italians endured the Black Death, climate change, banking collapse, chronic war, political turmoil and a Catholic Church in disarray. In the midst of these significant and overlapping crises, where did they turn for solutions? The humanities. As a curriculum of study, the humanities first emerged in the context of these crises. But more importantly, it emerged as a response to them. In this talk, Dr. Emily O’Brien will explore the many ways in which Renaissance Italian humanists served as first responders in an age of sustained crisis. They did so by translating a curriculum rich in history, rhetoric, moral philosophy, poetry into practical tools and innovative solutions for tackling the problems of their day. More than just a tour of Renaissance Italy, this story carries a critical message for us today as we face the challenges of Covid-19 and our other 21st-century crises: now more than ever, we need the humanities.


Emily O'Brien is an Associate Professor in the History and Humanities Departments at SFU. Her research focuses on the intersection of politics and intellectual culture in fifteenth-century Italy and, in particular, in the Renaissance papacy.  She has published several articles and essays on the writings of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (Pope Pius II) and a monograph entitled The Commentaries of Pope Pius II (1458-1464) and the Crisis of the Fifteenth-Century Papacy (University of Toronto Press, 2015). Her current book project focus on civic consciousness and the reception of Cicero's De Officiis in Renaissance Italy.

The Institute for the Humanities is hiring for a Summer RA position

Do you have a passion for community engagement? Are you interested in gaining valuable research and editing experience? If you answered yes to the above questions, we invite you to apply for our Summer Research Assistant position. Application deadline is April 30th. 

Dr. Shuyu Kong has been keeping busy!

Shuyu was recently awarded a SSHRC Small Research Grant to support a project “Rediscovering Chinese Women Artists Studying in France (1910s-1940s)”. The award period is 2020 to 2022.

Other news from Dr. Kong:

She also was residential fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Humanities and Social Sciences, Zhejiang University in the fall of 2019. She worked on a research project on Taoist Influences on Chinese landscape poetry and painting. She also gave a talk there on teaching Chinese Classics as Great Texts in North America.
Shuyu published an article on Chinese Australian artist Shen Jiawei and his history paintings in Yishu: Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Vol. 18 no. 5 (Sept/Oct. 2019): Link to the article.

Watch this video for information on the Humanities Student Union

Watch SFU's Dr. Samir Gandesha, UFV's Yvon Dandurand and UVic's Michelle Lawrence present during the February 24th Legislative Assembly of the Special Committee for Reforming the Police Act beginning at 9am.
Click the following hyperlinks to listen to Dr. Samir Gandesha discuss Posthuman Fascism on the Los Angeles Review of books podcast; "Riots, Liberal Democracy and Guy Debord" on the Correction Podcast, and  "The inauguration of Joseph Robinette Biden Jr." on the CBC's BC today with Professor Emeritus Richard Johnson (UBC) and Angela Sterritt.
Read Dr. Samir Gandesha's Splinters Column on "Kamala, Angela, and the failed revolution"!
Watch Dr. Samir Gandesha's CTV interview on "What's Next for Trump After Impeachment", and the trailer for his talk for the Psychoanalysis and Politics Group on Trauma and Political Thought!

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies (SNF CHS) at Simon Fraser University invites applications for a one-year Postdoctoral Fellowship (click to open PDF) focused on Hellenisms Past and Present, Local and Global, beginning September 2021. The search committee welcomes applications that span disciplinary boundaries from candidates working on comparative approaches to the advertised fellowship theme. Applicants from all fields of the humanities and the social sciences are encouraged to apply.
Learn how to apply now. Applications received by February 15, 2021 will be given priority.

New Journal Publication from Dr. Samir Gandesha

This is a conversation that took place at Dr. Vladimir Safatle’s São Paulo home on 16 February, 2019, during Dr. Samir Gandesha’s time as a Visiting Professor at the Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas -FFLCH-USP (Universidade de São Paulo). It addresses the South American roots of the authoritarian Neoliberalism that has now become a truly global phenomenon.
The Brazilian Matrix: Between Fascism and Neo-Liberalism: Vladimir Safatle and Samir Gandesha in Conversation  
We are pleased to announce that this fall's event recordings are now available for viewing. To access the recordings, use the links below or visit SNF's YouTube channel

Fall Seminar Series

Church, State & People(s): Educational Policies & Medieval History Curricula - Jovana Anđelković

Back Through the System...Again: Taking Apart the Aegean Bronze Age - Dimitri Nakassis

Going After Eva Palmer Sikelianos - Artemis Leontis

Mapping the Margins: Introducing the Central Achaia Phthiotis Survey - Margriet Haagsma

A Memory Called Empire: Science Fiction from a Byzantinist's Frame - AnnaLinden Weller

Swinging Democracy: Law in Early Hellenistic Athens - Ilias Arnaoutoglou

Fourth Annual Edward and Emily McWhinney Memorial Lecture

Charismatic Leadership and its Discontents: The Case of Greece - Harris Mylonas 

Memory and Trauma Through History and Culture Series

Migration Symposium:

Pandemic/s Panel

Thank you once again to all of our attendees, sponsors, co-hosts, and our guest speakers, for bringing this semester to life despite its virtual nature!
If you have a moment, please consider completing this six-minute online survey to provide feedback on our fall events. Your input will be used to shape future programming!

Department of Humanities launches student award to honour retired professor Paul Edward Dutton

Via FASS News
November 12, 2020
After 37 years of service at Simon Fraser University, Professor Paul Dutton from the Department of Humanities has retired. Dutton is an historian of the Middle Ages who introduced thousands of SFU students to the delights and mysteries of early European history and culture in such courses as HUM 105: Western Civilization, HUM 103: The Invention of the Book, and HUM 307: Carolingian Civilization...
Read the full article here >
New book, Neutral Countries as Clandestine Battlegrounds, 1939-1968: Between Two Fires sees two SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies professors contribute to understanding of Balkan states as clandestine battlegrounds during the Second World War and Cold War. Learn more about the text and the SNF conference that culminated in the book here!
Congratulations to Professor Dimitris Krallis, who has been promoted to full Professor, effective September 1st, 2020.
We're thrilled to share the first Humanities Student Union newsletter! Catch up on how our students, faculty, and staff are coping in the time of the coronavirus here: "HUMSU Community Over Covid Newsletter."

Remembering Mary-Ann Stouck (1941-2020)

Dr Mary-Ann Stouck, a long-time member of the English Department, sadly passed away on April 4th. Highly regarded by her colleagues and students, she will be remembered for her outstanding commitment to university teaching and for her personal qualities of intelligence, honesty, kindness, and “self-deprecating wit.” 
Mary-Ann and her husband David were a part of the 1966 generation of SFU teachers and scholars. A graduate of McMaster University and the University of Toronto, she epitomized the primary concern of Canadian universities for exceptional undergraduate and graduate teaching. She was a Professor of Middle English at SFU for over 37 years and, as a colleague remarks, “she loved teaching Chaucer.” A former student, who followed her into the profession of English, remembers “A learned and warm-spirited guide who took students seriously, and prepared them to engage with medieval tales on their own—in, of course, the deeply, expertly informed historical, conceptual context she provided…. And she gave students the very special gift of learning how to hear Chaucer in his own voice, firsthand. From her instruction, they learned habits of scholarship, the delights that follow the discipline.” 
She was a knowledgeable and effective committee member in the English Department and a highly successful administrator.  Late in the 1980’s, the co-coordinator of the Humanities Minor Program invited her to teach an occasional course on the ‘Saints.’ But when Paul Dutton became Chair of History, “she agreed to step in as co-coordinator (from 1993-1995) and spearheaded the drive to create a major program in Humanities and set up our joint major and minor programs with other departments. It was thus Mary-Ann who put us on a course to departmental status, which happened under Steven Duguid.” She also played a key role in the Canadian Society of Medievalists in the 1990’s.
After her retirement Mary-Ann served the West Vancouver SPCA with great dedication and, reflecting her love of animals, wrote two children’s books: Jeannie Houdini, A Hamster's Tale and A Fine Winter's Cap. Also in the 1990’s she was appointed as a board member to the Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation, published Medieval Saints: A Reader (1999), and the extremely popular A Short Reader of Medieval Saints (2009) which is not just an abbreviated version of her earlier book but “a quick transfusion of Saints for the busy student and reader.”
Most striking was Mary Ann’s great courage during the final two years of her life, after she had been officially diagnosed as suffering from mesothelioma.  She continued to meet friends and say her good-byes without a trace of self-pity. When breathing became more difficult for her and ventilators were in demand at hospitals and care homes, she turned to MAiD for assistance. She died at home with her family around her, with dignity and grace.
By Sandra Djwa (with Tirthankar Bose, Paul Dutton, Janet Giltrow, and Kathy Mezei)
Check out HUM MA Alum, Maggie Ka-ying Tsang's FASS 2020 News spotlight: "SFU researcher bridges Traditional Chinese Medicine with First Nations communities"! Congratulations, Maggie; as you continue building your research alongside and across communities!
Congratulations to Maggie Tsang on convocating this October! Maggie successfully defended "Chinese Medicine as Hermeneutic Knowledge? On the Role of Classical Works such as Huangdi neijing suwen in Chinese Medicine" in July. She stopped in after the ceremony to take photos with her senior supervisor, and Humanities Department Chair Dr. Paul Crowe. Maggie is now a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Health Sciences at SFU. 
Congratulations to Alexis Wolfe on successfully defending "Symbolic Collisions: Short-Circuits in the Libidinal Economy"! Thanks to Dr. Paul Dutton for chairing and to the members of her examining committee Dr. Samir Gandesha (Sr. Supervisor), Dr. Gary McCarron (Supervisor), and Dr. Svitlana Matviyenko (Internal Examiner). 
Congratulations to HUM Professor David Mirhady for his July 2019 election as Vice-President of the International Society for the History of Rhetoric! He will succeed to be its President after the 2021 meeting in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and host the 2023 meeting in Vancouver. Stay tuned!

Past Events

The Department of Humanities, SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies and Institute for the Humanities have collectively organized a panel which brings together speakers from different disciplines to offer critical reflections on the legacies of past pandemics and the challenges of the present.
This (online) panel is the second installment of the Memory and Trauma Through History and Culture series which provides opportunities for scholars to critically reflect on the nature and evolution of societies and cultures through a multidisciplinary lens.
When: Friday, November 20th at 2:30 PM – 5:30 PM PST
Registration: Registration takes place through Eventbrite. On the morning of the day of the event, the link to the webinar will be distributed by email. The webinar can also be accessed through Eventbrite.
Eventbrite link:

Global Art Exchange and Modernism in Socialist China (1949-1979)

社会主义中国的艺术交流和现代主义 (1949-1979)
This week, on October 30 and 31, 2020, SFU’s David Lam Centre and the SFU Department of Humanities are hosting the virtual conference, “Global Art Exchange and Modernism in Socialist China 1949-1979." 

According to the conference website, this event is the most recent of a series, “Art and Modernism in Socialist China,” which is an international cooperative research and publication project launched in 2017 at Taikang Space, Beijing. The workshop focuses on “global exchanges among left-wing artists and their impacts on Chinese art during the most rigid period of Socialist China. From artistic exchanges with Latin America to the Romanian school in Chinese art education; from discrete international exhibitions in China to underground artist groups during the Cultural Revolution.”

Organizer and SFU Humanities professor, Dr. Shuyu Kong, says panelists at the workshops this week will be presenting a complex view of contemporary Chinese art history.

Register here: Session One on October 30, 2020 + Session Two on October 31, 2020
Please join us this October 9th and 10th for a two-day online symposium entitled "Memory and Trauma Through History and Culture: Migrations". Further details, including the event schedule, can be found here.
Institute Director, Samir Gandesha is participating in the Freud Museum's international online conference "Psychoanalysis and the Public Sphere: Social Fault Lines". His panel "Indelible Racism?" begins at 15:50 BST on September 20th! Book your ticket here!
Dr. Samir Gandesha, director of Simon Fraser University's Institute for the Humanities, will give three public lectures at the University of Winnipeg (U of W) on November 4th and 5th, 2019. For more information, follow this link to The Uniter, Winnipeg's weekly urban journal:
Centre A and The Cinematheque, with support from SFU David Lam Centre and SFU Department of Humanities, welcome renowned Vietnamese-born artist, writer, and scholar Trinh T. Minh-ha for a special two-night program of her acclaimed film work. Subjective, self-reflexive, and intellectual, infused with feminism and anti-colonialism, and offering a dizzying array of sights and sounds, the award-winning “anti-anthropological” films of Trinh represent a startling reinvention of the documentary form. Read More

Quick Links

Institute for the Humanities

Freedom of Speech in the Arts: Voices from the Left

Torrent, Trickle: The Exploratory By Andrew Czink

Canada and the UN Convention Against Torture

Truth Before Reconciliation: Reframing/Resisting/Refusing Reconciliation

 Humanities' Social Media