Maria Assif

Maria Assif
Professor, Teaching Stream
ENGA02 Coordinator, Joint UTSC/OISE Program Faculty Advisor, & Associate Chair for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Telephone number
Building HW 319


Pr. Maria Assif is Professor of English (Teaching Stream), the Coordinator of the English Department First-Year Writing Course (English A02), and the Faculty Advisor of the UTSC/OISE joint Program (B.A. in English and a Master of Teaching). She is a seasoned professor and administrator, with many years of experience teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, coordinating writing programs, mentoring students and faculty, and leading curriculum, hiring, equity, and promotion committees as well as campus-wide initiatives in Students as Partners (SaP), community-engaged learning, and global classrooms. She is one of the recipients of the University of Toronto 2022 President’s Teaching Award. 

Beyond the University of Toronto, Pr. Assif is the Co-Coordinator of the Writing about Writing (WAW) Steering Committee at the CCCC, the world's largest and longest-standing organization devoted to research and teaching of college reading, writing, speaking, listening, and visual representing. She is a member of the Science Committee of the Global Education Conference and one of the mentors at the Naylor Workshop (a top tier platform for undergraduate research in Writing Studies). She also serves as the Faculty Advisor of the only Canadian chapter of Sigma Tau Delta (the International English Honor Society), which she founded at UTSC. 

Pr. Assif received her PhD in English from Case Western Reserve University in 2005, with a triple concentration in American Literature, Rhetoric and Composition Studies. From 2005 to 2008, she taught at Truman College in Chicago and obtained tenure right before joining the University of Toronto in 2008.  Pr. Assif’s research focuses primarily on writing studies and Arab women writers. In 2021, in collaboration with many students, local activists and Arab historians, she finished the first edition of the first critical database about Contemporary Arab Women Writing. It is expected to be released in 2022 through the Digital Unit at the University of Toronto Libraries.  She is currently working on a textbook, Beyond the Five Paragraph Essay. Her other publications have appeared or will be appearing in tens of journals, anthologies and public forums, such as University Affairs, the Journal Rhetoric of Health & Medicine (RHM),  The International Journal of Arts and Science, The International Journal of Comparative Literature and Transnational StudiesThe International Journal of Arts and SciencesWriting about, the online WorldWide Forum of Education and CultureAfter 9/11: A Collection of EssaysDiversity and the Challenges of Global Higher Education, Pennsylvania NotesText Matters: A Journal of Literature, Theory and Culture. In addition, Pr. Assif served as Associate Editor of different journals whose focus range between comparative literature, transnational studies, education, and cultural linguistics as well as the reviewer of many composition textbooks. Outside the classroom, Pr. Assif is a familiar face at CTSI (Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation, UTSG) as well as CTL (Centre for Teaching and Learning, UTSC) workshops and events, and is a regular participant at the CCCC (Conference on College Composition and Communication) and ISSOTL (The International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) annual conferences. 

Pr. Assif is the recipient of many teaching and research awards, grants, and fellowships. This includes the UofT Teaching Fellowship, the UTSC Professional Academic Coaching Fund, the federal CEWIL grant (Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada), the UofT LEAF Seed Grant, the UofT Community Engaged Teaching Fellowship, the UTSC Experiential Learning funds, the UfT Global Classroom funds, the Jackman Humanities Institute’s Scholar in Residence Program mentorship, the UTSC Dean’s Special Merit Award, the TedexUTSC 2016 "Dare to know" Participation, the UofT Idered Campaign Award, The UTSC Underground Best Professor of the Year Award, The Middle East Excellence Award Institute in Education Nomination, TVO Best Lecturer Series Nomination, Top Five Educators in Illinois, The Fulbright Scholarship, the Melon, and Adrian Research Fellowship. 


Pr. Assif considers teaching her life calling. She believes in “relationship-rich classrooms”, where students and faculty build personal connections, where student-student interactions foster educationally meaningful relationships, and where the magic of one classroom transcends to other classrooms and communities. This vision extends to her educational leadership philosophy. She believes in the power of individuals and communities to listen and learn from each other and in the role of leaders in developing a shared vision and in serving as catalysts for change

Research Interests

American Literature; Ethnic Studies; Women’s Literatures; Trauma Studies; Composition Studies