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.