Associate Professor of French

M.A., University of Toronto
Ph.D., Cornell University

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.

Sima 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 some unusual ones .  Her research interests are wide ranging, from Baudelaire and 19th-century poetics  to French fashion and cultural history. Increasingly her work has focused on the historical and cultural contextualizations of French literature and art.  She is currently working on the Crimean War in French cultural memory.


Wall Scholar,  Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies 2019-2020.

Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, International Visiting Research Scholar Grant, 2015-2016.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 1994 – 1997.

National Endowment for the Humanities, 1988.

Fellow of the National Humanities Center, 1987-1988.

Tanner Award for Inspirational Teaching, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,


  • Discourse of fashionability in modern French culture (19th-20th century)
  • French cultural history & French cultural memory (19th-century)
  • 19th-century French poetry
  • Baudelaire


  • “La Guerre de Crimée n’aura pas lieu”  Wall Scholarship, Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Study


With Frank Unger, The Shifting Foundations of Modern Nation States, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.

“Fashion and Fashionability in Modern French and Francophone Literature“ Esprit Créateur, 37, 1, 1997.


“La Guerre de Crimée n’aura pas lieu.” French Cultural Studies, 27 (1) 2016, 1-17.

“Foucault’s Baudelaire.” Foucault on the Arts and Letters, Perspectives for the Twenty-First Century. ed. Catherine Soussloff. London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016: 105 – 120.

“Crime et Crimée.” Le Crime.  Eds. Michel Pierssens and Jean-Jacques Lefrère, Toulouse: Du Lérot, 2012.

“Film et (coiffe de) plumes.” Film et plume. eds. Michel Pierssens and Jean-Jacques Lefrère, Toulouse: Du Lérot, 2011.

“Le product placement en littérature,”  La Réclame, ed. Michel Pierssens and Jean-Jacques Lefrère, Toulouse: Du Lérot, 2010.
Reviewed by Pierre Assouline, “La République des Lettres.” Le Monde,  December 27, 2010.

“Concrete Poetry,”  Formes urbaines de la création contemporaine, Paris, Formules, 2010: 25 – 44.

“Moving through Fashion in 19th-century France.” Performative Body Spaces: Corporeal Topographies in Literature, Theatre, Dance, and the Visual Arts.  ed. Markus Hallensleben, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010: 143-156.

“Du Grand Prix de Rome au grand mépris de Rome,” Les Prix, ed. Michel Pierssens and Jean-Jacques Lefrère, Toulouse: Du Lérot, 2009.és-du-Prix-de-Rome.pdf

“Ce père nourricier.  Revisiting Baudelaire’s Family Romance,” Nineteenth-century French Studies, 38, 1-2, 2009: 39-51.

“Making Sense of The Nineteenth-Century; Alain Corbin, Cultural Historian, French Historical Studies, 25, 2, 2002: 381-398.

“Charles Baudelaire and Art,” The Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, ed. Michael Kelly, New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 4 vols., 1: 212-217.

“Haute couture, haute culture,”  De la littérature française, ed. Denis Hollier, Paris: Bordas, 1993: 715-723.

“The Dandy as Ironic Figure,” SubStance, 11, 3, 1982: 21-33. 


Frédéric Gros. “The Aesthetics of Bios.” Foucault on the Arts and Letters, Perspectives for the Twenty-First Century. ed. Catherine Soussloff. London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016: 199- 206.

Alain Finkielkraut,  Remembering in Vain: The Klaus Barbie Trial and Crimes against Humanity, New York: Columbia University Press, 1992.

Emile Gallé, Ecrits pour l’Art (Paris: 1909), partially reprinted in Emile Gallé, Dreams into Glass, ed. William Warmus, Corning, N.Y: Corning Museum of Glass, 1984.

Marcelin Pleynet,  “For an Approach to Abstract Impressionism,” in Abstract Expressionism, ed. Michael Auping, Buffalo: Albright Knox Art Gallery, 1987.

Marcelin Pleynet, Painting and System, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.


Society for French Historical Studies, Washington DC, 2017:
Schmatas R Us: From Jewish Rags to French Riches