New Faculty Members

We are thrilled to introduce our new faculty members who have joined the Department of English at the University of Toronto, St George since July 2022. These exceptional scholars and writers bring a wealth of expertise and experience to our department, and we are delighted to welcome them to our community.

Comfort Azubuko-Udah Welcome New Faculty

Comfort Azubuko-Udah is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and the African Studies Program. She works primarily in African literature, eco-criticism, urbanity, and postcolonial theories. With a focus on environmental justice and the politics of storytelling, particularly in conversation with global politics in African locales, her teaching and scholarship is invested in the nature and politics of storytelling as it relates to landscapes and more-than-human agency in literature. She holds an MA and PhD in English from UCLA, and was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Leslie Center for the Humanities at Dartmouth College.

David Chariandy

David Chariandy is a Professor with the Department of English. He is an internationally acclaimed writer and critic. Formally trained as a literary scholar, he wrote the first doctoral dissertation on Black Canadian literature (so named), and has contributed substantially to the field through articles, book chapters, and co-edited special issues of journals. As an author of fiction (the novels Soucouyant and Brother) and creative non-fiction (the epistolary memoir I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You), he is among the most read and discussed of his generation in Canada. His books have been translated into a dozen languages, reviewed in newspapers and magazines worldwide, taught routinely in both secondary and postsecondary classrooms, and substantially profiled in leading Black and Caribbean academic journals such as Callaloo, Transition Magazine, and S/X Salon.

Chariandy’s work has also been celebrated by globally renowned writers such as Patrick Chamoiseau, who, in his introduction to the French reprint of Soucouyant, praises Chariandy’s “beautiful art” and proclaims him, in reference to the late Édouard Glissant, “a writer of relation.” In 2019, Chariandy was awarded Yale University’s Windham Campbell Prize for fiction, one of the largest literary prizes in the world. In 2021, a scholarly book was published entitled Critical Perspectives on David Chariandy’s Writings. In 2022, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Division of Arts.

I. Augustus Durham

I. Augustus Durham will be joining the Department of English in July 2024 as an Assistant Professor. He is a literary scholar with a focus in black studies, and he locates his work at the nexus of the textual, the critical, and the aesthetic. Currently an Assistant Professor at Lehman College at the City University of New York, Professor Durham earned his PhD at Duke University in English in 2018 with certificates in African and African American Studies and Feminist Studies. His published articles and book chapters include: “U, (New) Black(?) Maybe: Nostalgia and Amnesia in Dope” published in Black Camera: An International Film Journal 8, no.2 (Spring 2017); and “A Loving Reclamation of the Unutterable: Patricia Hill Collins, Hortense J. Spillers, and Nina Simone as Excellent Performers of Nomenclature,” published in PalimpsestA Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International 2, no. 1 (2013). His most recent publication is a book from Duke UP entitled, Stay Black and Die: On Melancholy and Genius (2023). With chapters on Frederick Douglass, Ralph Ellison, Marvin Gaye, and Alice Walker, Judith Butler and Octavia Butler, Stay Black and Die examines melancholy and genius in black letters, culture, and history from the nineteenth century to the present. Contending that melancholy is a catalyst for genius and that genius is a signifier of the maternal, Stay Black and Die (re)positions the black feminine/maternal as foundations for black aesthetics through the politics of abstraction. Professor Durham’s teaching emphasizes collaborative work, and he has taught numerous courses in American literature, film, and composition with titles including “Kind of Blue,” “Black Women Coming of Age,” “Mining the Myth,” “Tracking the Sound,” and “The Politics of Spike Lee.”

Jim Hansen

Jim Hansen is an Associate Professor at the Department of English. He's the author of Terror and Irish Modernism: The Gothic Tradition from Burke to Beckett (SUNY Press, 2009).  He’s currently working on two projects: a book-length study of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, entitled The Impossible Demand of Hitchcock’s Cinema and a study of G.W.F. Hegel’s Aesthetics that he’s calling Towards a Speculative Formalism: Hegel, Modernism, and Political Theory. He has contributed articles to numerous journals and collections and served as Co-Editor of a special issue of Contemporary Literature called “Contemporary Literature and the State.” His teaching interests range from literary figures like James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and Virginia Woolf to filmmakers such as the Coen Brothers and Stanley Kubrick to pop-culture phenomena like horror films and graphic novels.  

New Faculty Publications

Rebecca H. Hogue 

Rebecca H. Hogue will be joining the Department of English in fall 2024 as an Assistant Professor. She is an ACLS Fellow and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University. Rebecca grew up on the island of Oʻahu as a descendent of Scottish immigrants, and writes about empire, militarization, and the environment in the Pacific Islands and Oceania. Her current book project, Nuclear Archipelagos, examines Indigenous women’s anti-nuclear arts and literatures in the Pacific. Her work can be found in The Journal of Transnational American Studies, Amerasia, Critical Ethnic Studies, International Affairs, and elsewhere. In Fall 2024, she will join the faculty at the University of Toronto, St. George, as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English.

Larissa Lai 

Larissa Lai has an appointment to the graduate department of English, and is the Richard Charles Lee Chair in Chinese Canadian Studies in the Canadian Studies Program at University College. She is the author of nine books including Slanting I, Imagining We: Asian Canadian Literary Production in the 1980s and 1990s, The Tiger Flu, Salt Fish Girl, Iron Goddess of Mercy and most recently The Lost Century.

Professor Lai is a recipient of the Jim Duggins Novelist's Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, the Astraea Award, and the Otherwise Honor Book award and was twice a finalist for the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Award. She has also been a finalist for the Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Sunburst Award, the bpNichol Chapbook Award, the Dorothy Livesay Prize, the ACQL Gabrielle Roy Prize for Literary Criticism and the Governor General's Award.

She received her BA(Hon.) from the University of British Columbia, her MA from the University of East Anglia, and her PhD from the University of Calgary. She was an associate professor in Canadian literature at the University of British Columbia before moving to the University of Calgary to take up a Canada Research Chair in Creative Writing in 2007. In 2022-23, Lai held a Maria Zambrano Fellowship at the University of Huelva in Spain.

Noor Naga

Noor Naga is an Assistant Professor with the Department of English and Victoria College. She is an Alexandrian writer whose work has been published in Granta, LitHub, Poetry, BOMB, The Walrus, The Common, The Offing, and more. In 2017, she won the Bronwen Wallace Award for Poetry and in 2019 she won both the RBC/PEN Canada New Voices Award and the DISQUIET Fiction Prize. Her verse-novel Washes, Prays was published by McClelland & Stewart in 2020. Set in Toronto, this genre-bending work follows an immigrant woman’s romantic relationship with a married man and her ensuing crisis of faith. It won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, as well as the Arab American Book Award, and was listed in the Best Canadian Poetry of 2020 by CBC.

Set in Cairo in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, Naga’s debut novel, If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English, is a dark romance examining the gaps in North American identity politics, especially when exported overseas. In our globalized twenty-first-century world, this novel exposes the new faces (and races) of empire, asking who profiteers off of failed revolutions and, more importantly, who gets to write of the martyrs? If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English won the Graywolf Press Africa Prize and the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and has been shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the PEN/ Jean Stein Book Award and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. It was released in April 2022 to rave reviews from KirkusChicago Review of Books, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica, the CBC, and The New York Times, which called it an “exhilarating debut.” TIME magazine has listed it as one of its 100 Must-Read Books of 2022,” Kirkus deemed it one of the Best Fictional Voices of 2022, and Buzzfeed named it one of the Best Books of 2022.

Before returning to her alma mater, Naga taught at the American University in Cairo. 

Sebastian Sobecki 

Sebastian Sobecki is a Professor with the Department of English with a cross-appointment in the Centre for Medieval Studies. He is a Fellow of the English Association and the Royal Historical Society, and has also held fellowships with Harvard University, All Souls College (Oxford), Yale University, the Huntington Library, and Magdalen College (Oxford). He is a recipient of the John Hurt Fisher Prize from the John Gower Society and has received research funding from SSHRC, the British Academy, Québec's FQRSC, the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). His board memberships include The Journal of the Early Book Society, the Index of Middle English Prose, Maritime Humanities 1400-1800 (Routledge), and Texts and Transitions: Studies in the History of Manuscripts and Printed Books (Brepols). He is a former trustee of the Hakluyt Society and edited the journal Studies in the Age of Chaucer from 2018 until 2023.

His research and teaching extend to a wide area of late medieval and early modern literature, with a focus on ideas of the self, life writing, and materiality in the literary history of the long fifteenth century. He is particularly interested in Chaucer, Hoccleve, Kempe, Lydgate, Skelton, and Hakluyt. Authorship, law, travel, manuscripts, and palaeography are central to his practice. His work has been covered widely by international media, including The New York TimesThe New YorkerThe Guardian, the BBC, the TLSThe New RepublicThe Chronicle of Higher Education, and many others. His more than seventy articles have appeared in Speculum (four articles), The Review of English Studies (three), The Chaucer Review (five), ELHSACEHR, and Renaissance Studies, among others. He has produced two volumes for the Oxford edition of Richard Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations, 1598-1600 (forthcoming), and he is completing the edited volume A Global History of Medieval Travel Writing: European Perspectives (Cambridge UP). Ongoing editorial projects include The Cambridge History of London Literature: Vol. 1, The Beginnings to 1666 (Cambridge UP), with Stephanie Elsky, and, with Emily Steiner, The Oxford Handbook of Middle English Prose (Oxford UP). In addition to writing The Marvels of John Mandeville (Reaktion Books), completing the monograph The Invention of Colonialism: Richard Hakluyt and Medieval Travel Writing (Cambridge UP), and co-writing a book on Christine de Pizan with Misty Schieberle and Elizaveta Strakhov, he is working on two book-length studies, on Chaucer and authorial intention in fifteenth-century literature and on the handwriting and literary culture of London's bureaucratic clerks.  

Renée Trilling

Renée R. Trilling is Angus Cameron Professor of Old English with a cross-appointment in the Centre for Medieval Studies  She specializes in the language, literature, and culture of England in the pre-Conquest period. Her first monograph, The Aesthetics of Nostalgia: Historical Representation in Old English Verse (Toronto, 2009; winner of the International Society for the Study of Early Medieval England’s Best First Book Award), explores the relationship between poetic form and historical consciousness in early English vernacular verse. She is also author of the Oxford Bibliography of Old English Literature and Critical Theory (Oxford, 2016) and co-editor of A Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Studies (with Jacqueline A. Fay; Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), Textual Identities in Early Medieval England: Essays in Honour of Katherine O’Brien O’Keeffe (with Jacqueline A. Fay and Rebecca Stephenson; D. S. Brewer, 2022) and Feminist Approaches to Early Medieval English Studies (with Robin Norris and Rebecca Stephenson; Amsterdam University Press, 2023). She is a former Editor for Old English of JEGP: Journal of English and Germanic Philology, published by the University of Illinois Press. 

Her research has been supported by the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Humanities Research Institute and Center for Advanced Study at Illinois. She has published articles on Beowulf, Wulfstan the Homilist, Ælfric’s hagiography, vernacular historiography, wisdom poetry, and early medieval medicine, focusing on issues of gender, materiality, nostalgia, and literary form. Her current work draws on posthumanist trends in neuroscience, quantum physics, and philosophy to explore the role of materiality in early medieval notions of subjectivity. Before coming to Toronto, she taught at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign from 2004-2023.