Sima Godfrey

Associate Professor
PhD, Cornell University
Department of French, Hispanic & Italian Studies

Sima Godfrey began her university studies at the Université de Lausanne where she completed the “Diplôme d’enseignement du français moderne.”  She subsequently undertook studies in Modern Languages and Literatures at the University of Toronto where she also completed an M.A. in Comparative Literature. Following a gap year studying art restoration and museology at the Università Internazionale dell’Arte in Florence, she did her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Cornell University. From 1978–1988 she taught French literature in the Dept. of Romance Languages at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During this time she was awarded the Tanner Award for Excellence in Teaching at UNC, a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard University, and an NEH grant. But she never acquired a southern twang. In 1987-88 she was a fellow at the National Humanities Centre in Research Triangle Park. The following year, she joined the Dept. of French at UBC and in 1998 founded the UBC Institute for European Studies which she directed until 2007. Under her directorship, the Institute organized over 30 conferences and established an interdisciplinary M.A. programme in European Studies, the first of its kind in Canada.

Prof. Godfrey lectures regularly in Canada, France and the United States. She has published on the usual suspects in 19th-century French literature: Balzac, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Mallarmé, Maupassant, Nerval, and others.  Her research interests are wide ranging, from Baudelaire and 19th-century French art history to French fashion and architecture. Increasingly her work has focused on the historical and cultural contextualizations of French literature and art. She is currently busy looking for the invisible Crimean war in 19th-century French literature.

Co-principal Investigator Awards

International Research Roundtables, Kurt Huebner, 2018

Kurt Huebner
Sima Godfrey

The Role of Cultural Institutions in an Age of Populism

This Roundtable will explore the ethical role that museums and other cultural institutions must play in modern society, particularly at a time of risky nationalisms. The meeting was inspired by the work of the late Martin Roth, former Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, who would have been the PWIAS Distinguished Visiting Professor in the fall of 2017. Drawing on Prof. Roth’s significant contributions to the global cultural landscape, Drs. Kurt Huebner and Sima Godfrey will convene a broad range of participants to continue these conversations—exploring exciting approaches to bridge past and future, new ways to think about culture and politics, and the urgency of taking a stand on the role of culture in the current political climate. Political democracies and liberal values have come under pressure in the last few years; as a matter of fact, the rule of law as well as the degree of social and political freedom has declined on the global scale. This decline takes various forms, reflecting specific national circumstances. The roundtable will delve into the role of cultural institutions in times of rising populism and nationalism.

International Visiting Research Scholars, Françoise Gaillard, 2014

Françoise Gaillard
Sima Godfrey