Student Profiles


Sarwar Abdullah
Received his B.A. in philosophy from Saint Mary’s University (Halifax, NS) in 2009 and Philosophy from Dalhousie University (Halifax) in 2013 where he wrote his thesis on the early Wittgenstein—“TRACTATUS: LOGIC AND THE CHALLENGE OF ETHIC” He also earned an M.A. in Theology and Religious Studies from Saint Mary’s university, 2014 where he wrote his thesis on Simone Weil—“‘Negative Faith: The Moment of God’s Absence’: Simone Weil on Affliction”. Currently, he is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Humanities at York University (Toronto, Ontario).

Shahab S. Bayani

Student PictureShahab is a doctoral candidate in Humanities at York University where he has also completed an MA in Humanities. He holds an MBA and a BA in Economics from McMaster University. His additional qualifications are in commercial aviation. His current research interests examine human work interactions in the aerospace industry to investigate sustainability barriers. While exploring the experience of current aircraft maintenance engineers and commercial airline pilots, he accounts for the history of early aviation innovations where technologies and imaginaries were tied to flight with transcendent hope in the West. In the balance between technology dominance and humanism, mobilities of professional labour and emerging Asian capabilities, challenge the traditional discourse. Aerospace professionals are less likely to be homogenous today. While economic competitiveness and uncompromising safety standards are universally sought, highly specialized talent is now offered by those exhibiting race alterity and ethnic alterity. Opposition to dominance may be internalized, so how do these diverse groups prepare and perform optimally in this increasingly global, male dominated and profit driven technology sector? What are the core structural concerns and identity barriers to overcome?

Other aspects of his research include parallels in motor culture masculinity, male bonding and camaraderie through motorcycling. This is to better understand masculine hegemonic ideals. He has also presented conference papers in the construction of masculinity. He examines Western ideologies of man as the conqueror in contrast to the example of classical Persian literary humanism which presents Iranian male masculinity as a form of guardianship. These explorations ask: what is to be expected as we look ahead beyond global fears?


Carrie Bettel

Student PictureCarried earned her B.A. in Jewish Studies from York University and her M.A. in Jewish Studies from the Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

She is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Humanities.

Her research interests include Israeli art and film.




Shaunasea Brown

student pictureShaunasea Brown is a PhD candidate in the Humanities program at York University who self-identifies as a Jamaican-Canadian woman of African descent. Her research collaborates with Black women artists from the Greater Toronto Area to emphasize second-generation Caribbean-Canadian experiences. She is committed to critical conversations about Black liberation throughout the African diaspora through an anti-racist lens.

Watch Black Women Artists in Canada featuring Researcher Shaunasea Brown here.

Kiran Chahal

Student PictureKiran Chahal holds a B.A. in The Study of Religion from the University of Toronto and an M.A.  in Religion, Culture and Global Justice from Wilfrid Laurier. Her doctoral work centers around  topics in postsecularism, postcolonial theories, as well as ​ideas in epistemic injustice. By relying  on spiritual frameworks and conceptions about liberation​, she asks questions about sovereignty
and the place of spiritual ontologies in modern ‘postsecular’ societies.

Kiran is also the Executive Director of The Decolonized
Library Project, an interfaith collective  which hosts an
online community archive for marginalized peoples.​ ​She is currently working on  a book of her own, a short theory piece that will be published as a community resource for the Sikh Diaspora in Canada and abroad.

Victor Cirone
Victor holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Literary Studies from the University of Toronto and an M.A. in Communication and Culture from York and Ryerson University. His current work centers on 20th century ‘visionary’ or ‘celestial’ American poetics (e.g. Ezra Pound, H.D., Robert Duncan, Philip Lamantia, Ronald Johnson, Gary Snyder, Peter Lamborn Wilson) and the spiritual ecologies that many of the writers in this tradition sought to build. He is also engaged in the study of East Asian thought as it came to influence and shape facets of contemporary American experimentalism in the arts.

Debra Danilewitz

student pictureDebra Danilewitz is a Registered Social Worker and has a Masters degree in
Educational Psychology from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa and a Masters Degree in Humanities from York University. She has many years of experience working with children and parents both educationally and therapeutically. She has extensive expertise in teaching pro-social skills and works as a School Counsellor. Prior to that she was the School Psycholgist at King David High School in South Africa. She also  lectured at Medical School at the University of Witwatersand  and lectured to psychology students at Rhodes University in South Africa. Prior to that she worked as a Social Worker  at the Johannesburg Hospital in psychiatry and peadiatrics .She is currently a PhD student in the Humanities program at York University.

She has written and published 3 books.

  • David goes to play therapy
  • Memories and Reflections of my school years
  • The Treasured Gift

Christina Foisy
Christina (BA Concordia University, MEd York University) is a third-year PhD student in Humanities. Her oral history research considers autobiographical narratives of electroconvulsive therapy by both survivors and psychiatrists, and how such narratives represent lives re-routed by shock. She is also interested in sound art, memory studies and medical humanities. Her poetry/sound art has appeared at the Women Made Gallery in Chicago, the Journal of Research on Mothering and POIESIS.

Sasan Heidarzadeh

Sasan is a Ph.D. student of Humanities at York University. He has earned two master’s degrees in English Literature and Humanities and his previous research centered around diasporic fiction and refugee studies. In particular, he researched the plight of Indian immigrants to the United States in Jhumpa Lahiri’s fiction and addressed the impact of the notion of the American Dream on new immigrants to the U.S. In that research, Sasan tried to analyze the in-between status of new immigrants and investigated the processes of assimilation to the culture of their hostland. During his second MA at York University, Sasan looked at relationships of power and violence in a refugee camp in Manus Island using Behrooz Boochani’s novel, No Friend but the Mountains, as my object of study. His Ph.D. research will delve into works of prison literature and issues of human rights and will be an extension of his previous research, yet on a broader scale.

Amanda Hohmann

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Amanda holds an honours BA in sociology & anthropology from Laurentian University (2003), and a MA in cultural studies from Athabasca University (2010). Her doctoral work at York focuses on the history of childbirth, and the professionalization of obstetrics.

Prior to beginning her doctoral work, Amanda worked for several years as the National Director of the League for Human Rights, the Canadian sister-organization to the ADL. She has published extensively on antisemitism, and her work has been frequently cited by governments (both Canadian and international), NGOs and academic institutions.

Her areas of research interest include: the history of midwifery and obstetrics, modern birth policy, women’s health policy, motherhood studies, social theory, and the cultural representation of animals (especially mythical and ‘cryptozoological’ animals).

Sobia Kiran

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I am a Ph.D. Humanities student (Year III) studying the nineteenth-century science fiction in relation to global history. The presentation of the alien or racial others in the science fiction and history demands to bring into conversation the evolutionary theory and eugenics besides technological and scientific progress. I am interested in analyzing the evolutionary discourse in the late Victorian science fiction by engaging with history.

I received my MA English (2000) and B.Ed. (2002) from Pakistan. Later, I completed MPhil English (2008), and PGD TEFL (2009) from Pakistan, besides serving as an assistant professor of English at Forman Christian College University (2003-2011), and Lahore College for Women University Lahore (2011-2015). In Canada, I have secured TESL Ontario certification (2016) and MA English from York University (2017). I have seven paper presentations in international conferences and eight paper publications to my credit.

I am a nature lover. I like reading, travelling, bird watching, meditating, and writing poetry besides playing games with my children.

Sobia can be reached at

Babar Khan

Student PictureBabar Khan has a BA in French Literature from Trinity College, University of Toronto, an MA in Translation Studies from Glendon College, York University, and is currently a PhD student in Humanities at York University. His research interests revolve around translation theory, the hermeneutic turn in translation studies, metaphysics of language, and translation and philosophy.

He is also a professional English-French translator who has worked in the pubic, not-for-profit, and private sectors.

His literary work has been published in various Canadian literary journals.

Kris Kobold
Kris holds a Hon.B.A. (English and Mediaeval Studies) and an M.A. (Medieval Studies), both from the University of Toronto. Kris had been enrolled for three years in the Ph.D. programme at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto, studying Old and Middle English philology and literature, but left that programme after three years to pursue a B.Ed. (English and History concentrations) at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Now returned to Ph.D. studies in the Department of Humanities at York, Kris' research interests include textual criticism (especially medieval English vernacular); the history and development of the English language; and both the reception of Old English in the Early Modern period and the history of the scholarship of Old English.

Jessica Lee
Jessica J. Lee's work explores the overlap between environmental aesthetics, new materialisms, and critical environmental theory. She focusses on the aesthetics of landscape, specifically in relation to Hampstead Heath. Jessica completed her undergraduate in Contemporary Studies and International Development at the University of King's College and her masters in Humanities and Cultural Studies at The London Consortium. Her masters dissertation was published in Contemporary Aesthetics in 2010.

Ryan Lee

Student PictureRyan is a Ph.D student here in the Department of Humanities at York University where he also holds a M.A in Humanities and BA in Philosophy. His current research examines the effects of video games and social media, particularly how the digital realm in games transforms the individual self into something more fluid and flexible. He is particularly interested in exploring games such as The Last of Us: Part 1 & 2, World of Warcraft, The Witcher 3 and etc; and social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Discord, and Twitch.

Professional Leadership/Contributions: 2019-present, Co-President, HUGSA; 2020-present, HUMA Graduate Student Representative, Faculty Council of Graduate Studies; 2020-present, Graduate Student Representative, HUMA Tenure and Promotions Committee; 2017-2018, Logic Peer Mentor Coordinator, Vanier College.


Melanie Marjadsingh
Melanie received an Honours B.A in Law & Society in 2009 and a M.A in Humanities in 2014 from York University where she wrote her Major Research Thesis entitled “The Thin Line Between Law and Pop Culture: An Exploration into the Media’s Influence on Society, Narrative, and Legal Culture”. Currently, Melanie is in her second year in the Humanities PhD program at York University. Her current research focuses on the intersectionality between children’s literature, children’s rights and narratives of law.

Her other areas of interest include: Narrative identity, socio-legal studies, law & society, human rights, religious studies, legal culture, and film studies.

Abid Mirza
Abid earned his honours B.A. in Social Science and a MA in Humanities from York University. He is currently a doctoral student in Humanities. His research interests include religion and the persecution of minority religious sects in Islam.

Erik Mortensen
Eric is a HUMA PhD candidate. He received his MA at Wilfrid Laurier University from the department of English and Film Studies with a specialization in Gender and Genre. He received his BA from the University of Guelph with a double major in English & Theatre Studies and History. His dissertation research is focused on exploring the vigilante as a mythic figure within American culture and texts. In particular he is exploring how the narratives constructed in America create lessons which validate and romanticize  vigilante figures - factual and fictional. He is also exploring how gender and race impact the portrayal and reception of vigilante figures, and the different forms of vigilantes which can be found to the right and left of the American political spectrum.

Expanding the definition of a vigilante as one who uses violence - in any form - in the pursuit of "justice" instead of the more narrow view of a vigilante being a figure who takes the law into their own hands - though this does fall under the large framing of the vigilante figure.

Khyati Nagar
Khyati is working on her PhD titled ‘The Visual Cultures of Science in Early 19th-century Calcutta’, in which she is exploring the entangled socio-cultural ideas of visuality and science. Her comprehensive exam areas were defined as: General Area: The Circulation of Science between Asia and Europe from 1750-1900 and Specific Area: The Visual Cultures of Science from 1750-1900. Her interest in Visual Culture studies goes back a long way when she completed a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts in 1996 from the Faculty of Fine Arts at Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda, India, and a Masters Degree in Visual Communication Design in 1998, from IIT, Bombay, India. Her journey toward the Humanities started with her Master’s degree in Digital Humanities from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada (2009). She holds three awards at YorkU: a language award from YCAR (2015), the Vivienne Poy award for Asian Research (2015) from YCAR, and the Nirvan Bhavan Fellowship (2015).

Khyati is also deeply engaged in undergraduate teaching at York University and has over 13 years of teaching experience in higher education institutions in India and Canada. In the past two years she has completed three teaching certifications at Teaching Commons, York University: TACT (Teaching Assistant’s Certificate in Teaching), STA (Senior Teaching Assistant’s Certificate in Teaching), both certified by SEDA, UK, and an Instructional Skills Workshop Certification, certified by the ISW network, Canada. She has also worked as a Teaching Commons Tutor (2014-2015), where she mentored other junior TAs at YorkU.

Nanditha Narayanamoorthy

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I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Humanities at York University, Toronto, Canada. My research employs critical discourse analysis and a digital humanities framework to explore feminist and queer digital counterpublics through digital protest in the Global South. I specifically engage with protest hashtags to investigate questions of representation, access, identity building, and participation of gendered subaltern communities on social media platforms in the Indian context. I also study polarization, hate speech, and radicalization in digital activism.

I am an active member of the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR), the York Sensorium, the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities (CSDH/SCHN), NeMLA, and the FemBot Collective Network. I am published in Digital Studies/Le champ Numérique, The Journal of Social Media in Society, and the Digital Humanities Quarterly.

I can be reached at nanditha[at] You can also find me on Twitter.

Susan Niazi
Susan is a first year PhD student in Humanities Program. She has a B.A. in English Language Translation from Allame Tabatabaii University in Tehran, Iran in 1997. She is a Literary Translator and has gained translation experience over the past ten years. As a Literary Translator she has built up her professional portfolio by translating a collection of short stories, novels, and literary articles from English into Persian (Farsi) and vice versa, some of which have already been published in her home country. She is also a certified Community Interpreter, and obtained an ILSAT Certificate (Interpreter Language and Skills Assessment Tool).

She considers herself bilingual in Persian/English. She completed her M.A. in Translation Studies at York University, Glendon College in 2010. As a Literary Translator who has practiced translation in both directions between two languages, cultures and literatures, she believes in the intercultural communicative role of literary translation in developing, and reshaping cultures and literatures. This has led her to her research project, that being how literary translation has influenced, and enriched the Persian literary polysystem at the onset of the era of Modernism in Iran.

Other interests: Translation studies, translation and identity, comparative literature, the history of literary translation after the post Islamic Revolution in Iran, theories of world literature and the position of translated literature within it.

Christine Nguyen
Christine holds a B.A. (Specialized Hons) in Humanities from York University. She is currently working on an M.A. in Humanities and her current area of research is exploring the intertextual and interdisciplinary relationship in the works of Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry. Her other areas of interests include: Modernism and the Lost Generation of Paris.

Philip Oddi

Student PicturePhilip Oddi completed his MA in Religion, Culture, and Global Justice at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2019 and received his BA Honours English and Religion & Culture from the same university in 2018. Philip is currently working on his PhD at York University in Humanities and is also a student in the Graduate Diploma of International & Security Studies program. Current research interests include: the “War on Terror,” Racial and Ethnic Identities (including Muslim Identity, White Supremacy, Nationalism, and Refugee Immigration), Securitization of Western Nations (specifically Canada post-9/11; privacy and surveillance), Islamophobia, Secularism, as well as Punk/Punk-Rock Music and Culture. Philip is under the supervision of Dr. Amila Buturovic at York University.

Additionally, Philip is working alongside numerous academics under the guide of Dr. Jasmine Zine researching and mapping the Islamophobia Industry in Canada through The Canadian Islamophobia Industry Research Project.

Sonja Pushchak
Sonja holds a B.A. from the University of Toronto in Art and Art History and has undertaken her M.A. at York University in Interdisciplinary Studies. Her research to date has been the social and cultural implications of the Darwinist circle and the possibility that suffering may have been a pretence by which the group demonstrated their right to the most prestigious positions in late 19th-century science.

Jilynn Quek
Jilynn, also known as Jil, is researching how video games work as a storytelling medium. She is studying how stories are told in more traditional media (the written word, voice, performance, film/television, and comic book/graphic novel) in the super hero, western, science fiction and fantasy, fairy tale, and epic genres. The interaction between the player (who is both reader and performer) and text is an important aspect of her research. As a result, she is approaching her project by using narratology, ludology, game studies (gaming theory), film and television studies, and literary theory and criticism to frame her methodology.

She can be reached at

Mina Rajabi Paak
Mina Rajabi Paak is a PhD student at the department of Humanities at York University. She holds an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies from The University of British Columbia where she wrote her thesis on intersections of visual culture and the discourse of philanthropy within the context of the HIV/AIDS Pandemic. Selected as a Trillium Scholar in 2014, Mina is currently continuing her research on the concept and culture of philanthropy and its influence on the praxis of sociopolitical activism.


Susan Rajendran

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Susan is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Humanities at York University. She holds an MA in Humanities and a BA in English Literature also from York University. Her research focuses on the intersections of modernity, Buddhism and literature situated within the broader context of nation building in Sri Lanka. She examines Buddhist humanism as an important element in the writings of Martin Wickramasinghe and Ediriweera Sarachchandra and women's roles within the domestic sphere in the novels of Punyakante Wijenaike. Other themes in her research investigate the relationship between aesthetics and identity, in their range and potential, as alternatives to nationalist discourse.

Susan is also pursuing a Graduate Diploma in Asian Studies at York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR).

She can be reached at

Casey Robertson

Student PictureCasey Robertson is a PhD student in Humanities at York University specializing in sound studies, exploring the emergent field through themes from continental philosophy and gender studies.  Current areas of interdisciplinary interest include sonic cultural productions of trans* artists and theorizations of noise.  Casey is also a graduate research associate of the Centre for Feminist Research and Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology.  Prior to coming to York, Casey received an honours BA in Music (minoring in Philosophy) and a Diploma in Sonic Design from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, and an MA in Humanities from California State University, Dominguez Hills in Carson, California. As a musician, activist, and community organizer, Casey is also frequently involved in various equity-centered initiatives and projects throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

E-Mail:  Website:

Arun Nedra Rodrigo
Arun’s dissertation “The Sum of all our Solitudes” examines the role political refugees play in our imaginings of multiculturalism, their presence/absences, and possible repairs to both current practice and legislation through the recognition of multiculturalism as a moral endeavor.

Fumi Sakata
Fumi is a first-year PhD student and holds a B.A. and M.A. in Language and Communication from Japan as well as an M.A. in Cultural Studies from Queen's University. She is interested in exploring the limitations of the Western critical race theory by focusing on the unique race-thinking manifested in modern Japan.

Megan Sandhu
Megan holds a BA in English/Film as well as an MA in English from the University of Western Ontario. She also holds a Certificate in Creative Writing, from the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on representations of homelessness, both fictional and autobiographical in different media, as well as cinematic propaganda and advocacy. Her future dissertation title will be: "Representations of Homelessness: Negotiating Identities through the Mediation of Lived Experience". Megan is currently enrolled in a diploma program in Refugee and migration studies and conducts research on autobiographical and documentary representations of Refugee experience in Ontario suburbs.

Christopher Satoor
Christopher holds a specialized B.A. (Hons) in Philosophy and a MA in Humanities from York University.  Currently Christopher is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Humanities at York University. The History of Philosophy and Critical Theory are his expertise with a wide range of research interests including: Early Modern Philosophy (Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume ) German Idealism (Kant, and Schelling) 19th, and 20th century thought (Nietzsche, Whitehead & Bergson) French Spiritualism, Panpyschism & Neo-Vitalism (Maine de Biran, Felix Ravaisson, Teilhard de Chardin, Allan Kardec)  as well as Post-Modern Philosophy (Deleuze, Ranciere, Badiou)

His Dissertation will center around  Gilles Deleuze's univocal ontology tying his entire body of work (From Hume to his co-authored works with Guattari) to the concept of the 'political';  thus creating a deep rooted and sophisticated systematic political ontology.

Michael Sherbert
Michael Sherbert earned his BA Honours in Psychology and his MA in Religious Studies at Queen's University. His research interests include theories of religion, transhumanism, developmental psychology, critical theory and deconstruction.

Joseph Smith
Joseph holds an Honours B.A. in the Humanities – with a minor in History (2011), as well as a B.Ed (2012) and M.Ed (2014), all from York University. His Master's research – supervised by psychoanalyst Deborah Britzman – involved itself with an exploration (both philosophical and psychological) of Carter G. Woodson's concept of "Miseducation." He is currently a Humanities Ph.D., with research interests comprised of, but not limited to, the black Atlantic, biblical studies, psychoanalysis, existentialism,  ancient and modern philosophy and the modern novel. With a particular focus on the relationship between religion, philosophy, and psychology, Joseph is fundamentally concerned with the genesis, narration, and demonstration of the self i.e. what it means to be (become) a self-conscious human being.  Aside from his Ph.D. studies, he is a TDSB history and social science high school teacher, who also runs an outreach program for young adults, called "Generation Chosen," out of Emery Collegiate Institute – his former high school, located in the Jane and Finch community.

Ryan Staples
Ryan Staples holds a B.A. in Sociology and Social and Political Thought from York University. His doctoral research draws from Lacanian psychoanalysis to consider the role of desire in giving shape to epistemic practices in scientific objectivity. His dissertation will examine this relationship in the context of neuroscientific research about dreaming.


Andrea C. Valente
Title in Progress: Multimodal Rhetoric in Women’s Neuro-Autoethnography:  Building Synaptic Communities

"My research is situated at the intersection of Neuroscience and Humanities, in which I analyse autobiographical narratives across media of six public women that live with brain conditions such as autism, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy. I plan to identify how they organize and frame their lived experiences within such health conditions. Moreover I am interested in how their narratives and performances, grounded in rhetoric and communication studies, translate the medical discourse into vernacular knowledge  in transmedial contexts such as the Internet, which contributes to the formation of a virtual audience. This dissertation uses digital ethnography as a methodological tool, and it aims to contribute to an interdisciplinary approach within the Humanities."

Mahdieh Vali-Zadeh
Having had lifelong interest in studying languages, cultures, and literature, Mahdieh received her BA in English in Iran. Her desire for teaching led her to pursue a Master’s Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language in Iran as well. After her immigration to Canada and with the intention to incorporate her knowledge and experience of teaching with teaching literature, she passed a full academic year on British Romanticism at the department of English of York University where she started doing another MA at the department of Humanities in 2015. Currently, she is working on her masters in Comparative Literature, comparing Persian Sufism and British Romanticism, more specifically, comparing the poetry of Jalal al-Din Rumi and William Wordsworth on the matter of ‘The Sublime’.

Richard Williams

Student PictureRichard Williams is a doctoral student of the PhD Humanities program at York University and has a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Philosophy in Humanities from the Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Current work includes studying specific authors of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacque Rousseau and Niccolo Macchiavelli. Key interests of study include poetry, Canadian fiction, Shakespeare, Canadian history, war history, Plato and enlightenment philosophy.

Angie Wong
Angie is a former Mount Royal University graduate with a diploma in Theatre Performance; she received a Bachelors of Communication and Culture from the University of Calgary primarily working with Dr. Ron Glasberg, and a Master of Arts in the Humanities at York University under the supervision of Dr. Jay Goulding. Angie is a current Doctoral candidate in the Humanities Department investigating Existentialist and Phenomenological impacts on morality, ethics, and the human condition in Western philosophy.

Her Master’s Major Research Paper explored the hermeneutical division between logic in a ‘hyper-industrial complex’ and discourse through what she terms ‘Deep Reality,’ using close textual analysis of Martin Heidegger’s An Introduction to Metaphysics and the Daoist philosophical texts Daodejing and the Zhuangzi.