University Research Chair, Professor

Winifried SiemerlingPhD, Comparative Literature; Toronto
MA, Toronto
MA, Freiburg

Extension: 32118
Office: HH 222



After studying English and Romance Literatures and Languages at the University of Freiburg, I completed a second M.A. and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, specializing in Canadian/Québécois comparative literature. I subsequently turned my attention to other areas of cultural difference, postcoloniality, race, and the issue of recognition in North American and Hemispheric Studies. I was a Harvard postdoctoral fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, twice a Visiting Professor at the John F. Kennedy Institute of the Freie Universität Berlin, and taught as a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the Université de Sherbrooke until 2009, serving as Director of Graduate Studies in Comparative Literature for many years. I have been an Associate of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University since 2009 and a Professor at the University of Waterloo since 2010. I was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 2019.

Selected Publications


The Black Atlantic Reconsidered: Black Canadian Writing, Cultural History, and the Presence of the Past. McGill-Queen’s UP, 2015.

Canada and Its Americas: Transnational Navigations. Ed. Winfried Siemerling and Sarah Phillips Casteel. McGill-Queen’s UP, 2010.

The New North American Studies: Culture, Writing, and the Politics of Re/Cognition. New York and London: Routledge, 2005. Grand Prix du Livre 2006 de la Ville de Sherbrooke. French translation: Récits nord-américains d'émergence: culture, écriture et politique de re/connaissance, Les Presses de l’Université Laval, 2010.

Bibliography of Comparative Studies in Canadian, Québec, and Foreign Literatures/Bibliographie d’ études comparées des littératures canadienne, québécoise et étrangères 1930-1995. By Antoine Sirois, Pamela Grant, David Hayne, Gregory Reid, Winfried Siemerling, and Maria van Sundert. Sherbrooke: Editions GGC, May 2001.

Cultural Difference and the Literary Text: Pluralism and the Limits of Authenticity in North American Literatures. Ed. Winfried Siemerling and Katrin Schwenk. Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 1996/1997 (Hardcover/Paperback).

Writing Ethnicity: Cross-Cultural Consciousness in Canadian and Québécois Literature. Ed. Winfried Siemerling. Toronto: ECW Press, 1996.

Discoveries of the Other: Alterity in the Work of Leonard Cohen, Hubert Aquin, Michael Ondaatje, and Nicole Brossard. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994. Reissued as electronic edition by University of Toronto Press, 2008.

Artificial Intelligence in the Humanities: A Practical Introduction to Déredec. Toronto: Department of French, University of Toronto/Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press, 1989.

Articles & Chapters

“From Site/Sight to Sound and Film: Critical Black Canadian Memory Culture and Sylvia Hamilton’s The Little Black School House.” Studies in Canadian Literature 44.1 (June 2019): 30-46.

"Austin Clarke: ‘Membering Home and the Black Atlantic.” Revista Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses 78 (2019): 75-81.

“Social Aesthetics and Transcultural Improvisation: Wayde Compton and the Performance of Black Time.” Improvisation and Social Aesthetics.  Ed. Georgina Born, Eric Lewis, and Will Straw. Duke UP, 2017. 255-67.

“Transnational Perspectives on the Americas: Canada, the United States, and the Case of Mary Ann Shadd.” Routledge Companion to Inter-American Studies. Ed. Wilfried Raussert. New York: Routledge, 2017. 31-44. 

“New Ecologies of the Real: Nonsimultaneity and Canadian Literature(s).” Studies in Canadian Literature 41.1 (2016). 125-42.

 “History and the Truth of Fiction: Lawrence Hill.” Ten Canadian Writers in Context: Reading Canadian Literature Today / Dix sur dix: Lire la littérature canadienne aujourd’hui. Ed. Marie Carrière, Peter Midgley, and Jason Purcell. Edmonton: University of Alberta P and Canadian Literature Centre, 2016. 95-101.

“Jazz, Diaspora, and the Writing of Black Anglophone Montreal.” Critical Collaborations: Indigeneity, Diaspora, and Ecology in Canadian Literary Studies. Ed. Smaro Kamboureli and Christl Verduyn. Wilfrid Laurier UP. 2014. 199-214.

“Slave Narratives and Hemispheric Studies.” The Oxford Handbook of the African American Slave Narrative. Ed. John Ernest. Oxford UP, 2014. 344-61.

"A Conversation with Lawrence Hill." Callaloo 36.1 (2013): 5-26.

“Time-Spaces of the Black Atlantic: Yemaya, Diasporic Disruption, and Connection in Dionne Brand.” Special Issue on Dionne Brand, MaComère 14:1-2 (2013): 12-42.

"Canadian Literatures and the Postcolonial." The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature. Ed. Ato Quayson. Cambridge UP, 2012. Volume I: 171-214.

« Mary Ann Shadd, la diaspora africaine et les Amériques ». Trans, Multi, Interculturalité, Trans, Multi, Interdisciplinarité. Ed. Brigitte Fontille and Patrick Imbert. Trans. Sonya Malaborza. Québec: Les Presses de l’Université Laval, 2012. 165-77.

"Voicing the Unforeseeable: Improvisation, Social Practice, Collaborative Research." By Winfried Siemerling and Ajay Heble. Cross-Talk. Ed. Diana Brydon and Marta Dvorak.Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2012. 39-51.

“African Canadian Writing at the Crossroads of Space and Time: Lawrence Hill and Wayde Compton.” Riding/Writing across Borders in North American Travelogues and Fiction. Ed. Waldemar Zacharasiewicz. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2011. 185-99.

“Canadian Literatures, Language, Race.” Canadian Literature 204 (Spring 2010): 150-2.

Lawrence Hill.The Canadian Encyclopedia. Posted April 2010.

“Transcultural Improvisation, Transnational Time, and Diasporic Chance in Wayde Compton’s Textual Performance.” West Coast Line 63 (March 2010). 30-37.

“Canadian Literature, Transnational Studies, Race.”Transplanter le Canada: Semailles / Transplanting Canada: Seedlings. Eds. Marie Carriere and Jerry White. Canadian Literature Center Studies / Cahiers du CLC 1. Edmonton: Canadian Literature Centre, 2010. 8-19.

“Bi-Culturalism, Multiculturalism, Transculturalism: Canada and Quebec." Special Issue on “Culturalism.” New Literature Review (Australia) 45/46 (2009): 133-56.

“Narratives of Cultural Emergence, Re/Cognition, and the Study of North America.” American Studies/ Shifting Gears. Ed. Michael Butter Christ, Christian Kloeckner, Elisabeth Schafer-Wunsche, and Michael Butter. Heidelberg, Germany: Winter Verlag, 2010. 143-75.

“Writing the Black Canadian City at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century: Dionne Brand’s Toronto and Mairuth Sarsfield’s Montreal.” Etudes Canadiennes/Canadian Studies (France) 64 (2008): 109-22.

With Sarah Casteel: “Canada and Its Americas: Transnational Navigations of the Literary.” Canada and the Americas: Multidisiplinary Perspectives on Transculturality. Ed. Afef Benessaie. Toronto: Antares, 2008. 69-78.

“Ethics as Re/Cognition: Oral Knowledge, Cognitive Change, and Social Justice in the Novels of Marie-Célie Agnant.” Special Issue on Ethics and Literature, University of Toronto Quarterly 76:3 (2007): 838-60.

“Trans-Scan: Globalization, Literary Hemispheric Studies, Citizenship as Project.” Trans.Can.Lit: Resituating the Study of Canadian Literature. Ed. Smaro Kamboureli and Roy Miki. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2007. 129-40.

“Postindian Re/Visions in Gerald Vizenor’s The Heirs of Columbus.” Discours d’exclusion et d’inclusion: dynamiques de la mondialisation dans les Ameriques. Ed. Patrick Imbert. Ottawa: Legas P, 2005. 167-79.

“’Lights’: Oral History and the Writing of the Other in In the Skin of a Lion.” Michael Ondaatje. Ed. Steven Tötösy. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2005. 92-103.

“May I See Some Identification?: Race, Borders, and Identities in Any Known Blood. Canadian Literature 182 (2004): 30-50. Rpt. in Siemerling and Casteel, Canada and Its Americas, 148-70.

“From Narratives of Emergence to Transculture: Parti Pris and Vice Versa.” Meeting Global and Domestic Challenges: Canadian Federalism in Perspective. Ed. Thomas Greven and Heinz Ickstadt. Berlin: Kennedy-Institut Materalien, 2004. 125-41.

“Comparative North American Literary History and Alterity: Bercovitch, Blodgett, and a Hermeneutics of Non-Transcendence.” Tendances actuelles en histoire littéraire/ Contemporary Trends in Canadian Literary History. Ed. Denis St-Jacques and E.D. Blodgett. Québec: Nota Bene, 2003. 27-51.

“The Metropolis Project and Literary Studies: In/visible Cities?” Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English Newsletter. Laurentian University, Sudbury: ACCUTE, 2002. 40-44.

“Cultural Plurality and Canadian Literature.” Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada. Ed. W.H. New. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2002. 265-71.

“Michael Ondaatje.” Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada, Ed. W.H. New. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2002. 845-48.

“Interkulturalität in der Anglo- und Frankokanadischen Literatur.” With Peter Klaus. Anglo-Romanische Kulturkontakte vom Humanismus bis Postkolonialismus. Ed. Andrew James Johnston and Ulrike Schneider. Berlin: Dahlem UP, 2002. 246-79.

“W.E.B. Du Bois, Hegel, and the Staging of Alterity.” Callaloo: A Journal of African American and African Arts and Letters 24:1 (2001): 325-33.

“Other Canons: Margaret Atwood and the Québécois Reception of English Canadian Literature.” Journal of Indo-Canadian Studies 1:1 (January 2001): 48-59.

“United States/Canadian Writers’ Perspectives on the Multiculturalism Debate: A Roundtable Discussion at Harvard University.” Ed. with Graham Huggan. Canadian Literature 164 (Spring 2000): 82-111.

“Telling Differences: Reading Canada’s Literatures at the End of the Millennium.” Literary Review of Canada 8:3 (April 2000): 22-25 and 8:4 (May 2000): 24-26.

Sixteen further articles & chapters prior to 2000.

Fellowships and Awards

  • 2019 Elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
  • 2015 Gabrielle Roy Prize for The Black Atlantic Reconsidered: Black Canadian Writing, Cultural History, and the Presence of the Past (McGill-Queen’s UP, 2015).
  • From 1996-2017, eight Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and one Formation de Chercheurs et l'Aide a la Rechercher (FCAR) (Quebec) individual or team grants
  • 2012 and 2016 University of Waterloo Outstanding Performance Award
  • 2009 - present Associate of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University
  • 2000 and 2008 Visiting Professor, John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Berlin
  • 2000 - 2008 Fellow (non-resident), W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research, Harvard University
  • 1994-2009 Professor, Université de Sherbrooke (Assistant Professor 1994-1997; Associate Professor 1997-2002)
  • 1993-94 Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS/ Ford Foundation/ Mellon Foundation/ Fulbright) and Harvard University Visiting Scholar, Department of English
  • 1991-93 Postdoctoral Fellow, John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Berlin

Current Research

2017-20 (Principal Investigator) “Nonsimultaneity and Incomplete Time: From Bloch, Benjamin, and the Frankfurt School to Contemporary Black Critique.” Insight Development Grant, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)

2017-22 (Principal Investigator, team grant, with Karina Vernon, University of Toronto) “Call and Responsibility: The Transformative Appeal and Reception Aesthetics of Black Canadian Literature, Film, and Music.” Insight Grant, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)

2013-20 (Co-researcher) SSHRC Partnership Grant. "International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation: A Partnered Research Institute"

Areas of Graduate Supervision

  • Canadian literature and culture, North American literatures and cultures
  • Black North American writing (including francophone Quebec)
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Postcolonial studies
  • Diaspora studies
  • Hemispheric studies
  • Literary and critical theory (including Frankfurt School)
  • Jazz and literature
  • The Anthropocene, Theory, Literature
University of Waterloo

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