SELF (Students of English Literature and Film)

Dark blue banner with SELF logo (hanged man silhouette in front of a night skyline)

Students of English Literature and Film (SELF) at UTSC is a student-run organization that works in close partnership with the English faculty to build a community of English Literature and Film students by providing student services, organizing academic and social events, and bringing student feedback and issues to the UTSC Administration. Through our events, we also promote professional, scholarly, and research excellence among our fellow students.  Our full members have complete access to these events and all the services that our organization provides. We always have opportunities open for involvement throughout the year, so find your SELF and join us! Events are open to English and non-English majors alike!

Twitter: @SELFatUTSC
Instagram: self_utsc

Organization E-mail:

Click here for a list of SELF events.


2022-2023 SELF Executive Team

Nisa Rahman, President

Specialist in English, Minor in Political Science

A photo of Nisa

What is your favorite book or film?

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I’ll be honest, I don’t cry easy so I appreciate books that have the power to tear up. This book takes place in Afghanistan and showcases the sufferings of people that went through wars and terrors. It also has one of the strongest female characters in literature that is exposed to the bitter truths of life and painful realities of the world. Overall, the story is full of friendship, hope and survival, all things that hold infinite possibilities and miracles.

How do you relate to literature/film?

Literature has always been that escape away from reality. It’s always given me this connection to voice my thoughts and hear others’ as well. It’s definitely brought out the empathetic side of me because I tend to find myself comparing protagonists’ actions to what I’d do in a similar situation. To be provided another point of view really helped develop a sense of compassion and understanding.


Hycil Fernandes, Vice-President of Operations

Specialist in English & Specialist in Psychology

A photo of Hycil

What is your favorite book or film?

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is my favourite book. The novel narrates the experiences of a black man living in Harlem, New York, and the systemic racism that he encounters in different academic, corporate and social institutions. The complex characters and rhetorical devices in the book are intriguing, and are why I considered studying English in university.

How do you relate to literature/film?

I love literature and film because of the way that they create a community based in creative expression and the sharing of lived experiences. II also enjoy how it enables me to connect to the world around me in different ways, whether it be to other people and their cultures, or in learning about other scholarly disciplines such as philosophy or history.


Claire Caluag Vice-President of Academics

Major in Psychology, Minor in Literature & Film and Minor in Studio Art

a photo of Claire

What is your favorite book or film?

Normally, favourite questions come easily to me, but never in my favourite books or films since I adore so many great authors and works of literature. I do have seasonal book-favourites - “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. As soon as I start reading it, I can't put it down. A must read. Grab a copy or borrow from the library. Try it as a challenge before the year ends, and dm me what you think! I recommend this book because I believe we are main characters in our lives, with stories worth sharing. Imagine the best cake you've ever tasted with a hint of surprise in Coelho's novel - it's fluffy, sweet/savory and irresistible for seconds, like the best cake you've ever had. This novel includes 3 layers of adventure, focusing on courage, caution and direction, which will reveal wisdom from the past, present, and future as well as intelligent perspectives. If you aren't cake-person, imagine your favourite food! I certainly enjoyed it more than I expected. Re-reading this book,  I believe that I can make a positive impact in this life and that next,. And Coelho reminds me to be my best version with the mindset of being the main character in my life. So, do you! After you pick it up and read it, I’d love and look forward exchange perspectives! Like it or not, always welcome to hear them! @officialclairecaluag

How do you relate to literature/film?

As I learn about literature and film, or try to understand them, they become more like capsules of intimate opportunities to understand who I am, how I relate to the world, and how I relate to others. Understanding the past, present, and future stretches my imagination and curiosity. Likewise, the characters in a story, whether it be in a book or film, or the topic argued in an academic peer-reviewed article, invite us to feel and critically think. The freedom to challenge assumptions, stigmas, and long-held beliefs, or to affirm what we always knew but had not yet been able to articulate. We should share our own intentions, ideas, and insights when we read and watch literature and films.


Amna Alvi, Academic Events Coordinator

Specialist in Management & Information Technology, Minor in Creative Writing

A photo of Amna

What is your favorite book or film?

Asking a reader what they’re favorite book is has always been one of the hardest questions I could answer. Instead, I’ll talk about the most recent book I read which I really liked, called On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. What I loved more than the story itself was the writing style, which is a mix between poetry and fictional writing, and has been one of my more intriguing reads of the year.

How do you relate to literature/film?

I have always loved to read, and started writing at a very young age. I love the way writing can have multiple meanings, and the way something can be written so subtly it’s hidden between layers of words that only some people can find. As for film, I am interested in script writing, and especially want to see how a written piece looks coming to life in front of me. That feeling is what made me want to explore film in a more academic perspective.


Christine Villa, Social Events Coordinator

English Major & Double Minor in French & Linguistics

A photo of Christine

What is your favorite book or film?

My favourite book right now is actually a manga called Jujutsu Kaisen by Gege Akutami. I’ve always been someone who always loved the heroes and good guys, but Akutami blurs the lines between heroism and morality as characters make complex decisions for the sake of the world and yet, still mess up. In contrast to many modern superheroes, the characters are relatable and likable even when they make mistakes. Akutami does a brilliant job of working within the shounen genre to allow readers to see the ordinary in the extraordinary, all while making subtle critiques of Japanese society.

How do you relate to literature/film?

I’m a chronic overthinker which in most cases, is a weakness. With literature, overthinking instead becomes thinking-outside-the-box to read into the smaller details and larger context to understand the author’s world. Literature and film has always been about escape and creative exploration to always think, imagine and ask questions.


Brennen Penney, Co-Marketing Coordinator

Double Major in English and Media Studies

A photo of Brennen

What is your favorite book or film?

My favourite book is Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by bell hooks. In this text, hooks explores the intersections of race, class, and gender in the classroom. This radical text implores readers to rethink the ways we understand teaching and learning. Drawing from her experiences as both a teacher and a student, bell hooks provides a framework for challenging dominant modes of discourse and building an environment that empowers students.

How do you relate to literature/film?

Literature and film can serve as powerful vehicles for understanding the world. Entrenched in these works are the memories, experiences, opinions, emotions, and stories of many different people. I always try to understand literature and film as a product of its social, political, and historical moment. I look at literature and film as an opportunity to see the world from the perspective of another. Engaging with literature and film means exploring worlds, both new and familiar. 


Toey Saralamba, Co-Marketing Coordinator

Specialist in English

A photo of Toey

What is your favorite book or film?

My favourite book is Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. The first time I read this book, I read it in one sitting because I could NOT put it down. I love the novel because it humorously subverts the tropes found in typical Gothic novels. I enjoy novels that challenge the tropes of their genre not only because they are surprising but because they remind us that every genre has endless possibilities. I also appreciate that Austen's heroine, unlike the skilled heroines of other novels, "never could learn or understand anything before she was taught; and sometimes not even then"- it makes her so relatable! I highly recommend this novel to anyone who wants a good laugh.

How do you relate to literature/film?

For me, literature and film are mediums through which we can experience different perspectives. I enjoy consuming media created by people with different ways of seeing the world and discussing these media with various people because I always learn something new. I have learnt and changed so much from the discussions I've had about literature and film; I'm looking forward to having more of these discussions in the future.


Sarosh Chughtai, Co-Marketing Coordinator

Political Science

A photo of Sarosh

What is your favorite book or film?

While I do not have a favourite book, one book I recently read was The Catcher in the Rye which I really enjoyed. My favourite movies are Little Miss Sunshine and Mulholland Drive. Both are entirely different genres but I think the characters in both movies are well-written and casted.

How do you relate to literature/film?

I relate to literature & film because it allows you to be creative and think critically. I think it really allows you to learn about yourself and who you are as a person.


Mary Wang, Graphics Designer

Double Major in English and Psychology

A photo of Mary

What is your favorite book or film?

I can never choose favorites, so I’ll say one of my favorite book series is The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle) by Patrick Rothfuss. It has all the elements I love in books, fantasy coming-of-age set in a completely mythical world. It is so far detached from reality, nothing will remind you of contemporary problems or worries. One of my favorite films is The Perks of Being a Wallflower written and directed by Stephen Chbosky. Conversely, it is a very raw depiction of teenage struggles in everyday life touching on issues of relationships, sexuality, mental illness, and more.

How do you relate to literature/film?

I started reading to escape. Through literature you explore worlds, people, and experience things most people never have a chance to in real life. To know the only limit is your imagination makes opportunities boundless between the pages of a book.
Throughout my degree at UofT, I’ve come to appreciate the different modes of storytelling, and the effect it has on the audience. Being able to share in a piece of work transcends all time and culture, connecting people everywhere.


Fatima Chishti, Co-Executive Creative Editor

Major in English, Major in City Studies & Minor in Sociocultural Anthropology

A photo of Fatima

What is your favorite book or film?

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (and the series). The author S.A. Chakraborty was a Muslim convert in her early teens, and illustrates an interesting picture of medieval Islamic history with the focus on the genre of creative fantasy. The book is a step away from European colonization, and provides a closer look at the different cultures, and tension in Egypt and the local population. In the book, there are different tribes connected to different regions that share similar characteristics and languages. There are characters that come from unique cultural backgrounds, with rich family histories that add to the overall story. There are languages, historical settings and other elements of fantasy that make the book worthwhile to read. These different features in the book, along with its vibrant tradition and culture are a part of the characters’ lives.

How do you relate to literature/film?

English has always been my favourite subject for as long as I remember, and allows me to think more deeply, and share my critical thoughts about how to view perspectives, morals and lessons of life. I have been able to practice my skill as a writer and the profession of being an editor has always genuinely excited me. I also love watching movies!


Shakthi Suthakaran, Co-Executive Creative Editor

Major in English, Major in City Studies & Minor in Sociocultural Anthropology

A photo of Shakthi

What is your favorite book or film?

My favourite book is Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. It’s a novel I enjoy for its prose and underlying themes, which I think are just as relevant today as when I first read it. The book’s efforts to balance ambition, conscience, truth, and self-improvement are all values I appreciate regardless of how many times I revisit it. Altogether, it’s an altruistic novel that navigates societal structures and hierarchies as well as the internal self. It has important messages to share and an intricate venue to do so.

How do you relate to literature/film?

Literature consistently indulges my curiosity about the world and propels my imagination. Regardless of author, genre, or time period, books and films offer new perspectives of the people and societies surrounding us and encourage forward-thinking and new ideas. I always view new literature as an opportunity to learn and appreciate new content. I’d like to one day offer the same opportunity to others.


Omer Faruk Oz, Co-Executive Critical Editor

Double Major in Psychology and English

A photo of Omer

What is your favorite book or film?

My favorite book is The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Matsuo Basho. In it, he journals his travels throughout Japan and shares his poems alongside it when a particular landmark or place invites him to do so. His poetry vividly captures the Edo- period Japan in its natural and cultural elements and his beautifully tranquil prose complements his poetry and absorbs me in his travels every time I read it. I have never felt quite as peaceful as when I first read this little book.

How do you relate to literature/film?

Literature, for me, is a way of understanding and exploring myself. Through characters realized in various situations, I have come to understand that while we are all unique in our ways, we are all one in a sense and share the same experience of being human. So, literature, in an often cathartic way, helps me understand others, and consequently understand myself through our shared experiences.


Zilun Zhao, Co-Executive Critical Editor

Double Major in English and Media Studies

A photo of Zilun

What is your favorite book or film?

I love the movie “Taken” because of its amazing story, characters, plot, actions, lines and the message that the movie conveys.  I also like the actor Liam Neeson because the characters he plays in those movies are real men.  Neeson acts in many great action movies with very engaging and interesting stories, such as “Taken”, “Non-Stop”, “Run All Night”, “The Commuter”, etc.

How do you relate to literature/film?

I have been reading literature and watching films since a very young age, roughly at 5.  Except reading and watching literature and films, I also write my own short stories, which sometimes I save but at times I delete.  I think by writing my own stories, I relate to literature and films at a very deep level, because doing so makes me living in a literature and film mindset that satisfies myself.


Alina Mitrofanova, Editor

Double Major in English and Creative Writing

A photo of Alina

What is your favorite book or film?

My favourite book is Martin Eden by Jack London. I love how real and touching it is. I am fond of writing, and I really enjoyed reading about Martin’s transformation from being an uneducated man to becoming a talented and well recognized writer. I like how this book shows you that you can achieve anything if you work hard. It also teaches you that when you do achieve what you wanted, you might not be as happy as you thought you would be, so it’s  important to live in the moment and be grateful for what you already have.

How do you relate to literature/film?

I love literature and I always enjoyed reading and wanted to be a writer. I’m passionate about writing because I want to share my voice with others and  talk about the matters that I find important. Reading for me is a way to get transported into different exciting worlds created by writers.


Atinc Goc, Editor

Double Major in Psychology and Sociology

A photo of Atinc

What is your favorite book or film?

My favorite film of all time is 2001 A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick. I like most of his films but, when I watched 2001 for the first time, I realized Kubrick is in a league of his own. This film is amazing in many ways. The main topic is covered in many layers; evolution, alien architecture, and artificial intelligence. The portrayal of space travel is just fascinating, and I should mention that the film was released (1968) before the first moon landing (1969). My all-time favorite AI is also in this film, named HAL, which is capable of many functions such as speech, speech recognition, facial recognition, emotional awareness, interpreting emotions and it probably has a conscious mind. I highly recommend 2001, if you are interested in a good story. Kubrick and 2001, changed my life.

How do you relate to literature/film?

I believe stories can shape our reality. Literature and film are two of the most common tools for telling stories. Our minds are consistently looking for information and trying to make connections to shape our perspectives, beliefs, and opinions. There are many books and films that had an impact on my personality and I believe everyone can relate to that. I always liked the idea of producing something valuable, and I am looking forward to achieving that with this group.


Amber Aamer, Editor

Major in Human Biology, Minor in Public Law & Minor in Creative Writing

A photo of Amber

What is your favorite book or film?

This has always been a difficult question for me to answer because I don’t think I have a favourite, but a book I read early this year which I still think about a lot  is A Little Life by Hanya Yagagihara. I haven’t cried over a book before, but I did numerous times reading this one. Hanya Yanagihara has written such detailed and beautiful scenes with use of metaphor and poetic devices that I think require applause. It’s rare to find a novel that discusses grief and trauma in such a way that, although painful to visualize and imagine, keep you intrigued.

How do you relate to literature/film?

From a very young age literature has been my escape to realms of fiction and source of education on things I have been and am still passionate about. Literature has been a very powerful instrument in my life that I have used to understand myself and the environment/ world I live in. Without it, I would be relatively lost in what I wish to pursue, what I’m interested in, and I would lack a source of motivation and therapy to keep me a float.


Kauthar Mohammad, Editor

Double Major in Political Science & International Development, Minor in English

A photo of Kauthar

What is your favorite book or film?

Despite being a self-proclaimed bookworm, I’ve always had a hard time trying to select my favourite book! For now, I’ll go with two books that have impacted me the most in these past two years in particular: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados. Despite their starkly contrasting tones, both novels depict a similar sense of aimlessness that comes with getting older. I’ve loved both novels for their opposing illustrations of a coming-of-age. The bleak tone of The Bell Jar presents a more relatable experience of dejection, whereas the hedonistic yet shrewd tone of Happy Hour fights against (or merely avoids) that same dejection.

How do you relate to literature/film?

Literature is a means of understanding both yourself and others. I used to (and admittedly often still do) see books as a tool for escapism, but reading prose that is both cutting and concise is a very grounding experience. Literature in this way shows that not only are there ways that what you think and feel can be clearly expressed, but that others experience similar thoughts and feelings. Thus, while I still relate to the escapism provided by fictional worlds, understanding myself and those around me makes it harder to drift away.


Joshua Spencer, Senior Representative

Major in Creative Writing

A photo of Josh

What is your favorite book or film?

Currently, George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, because I watched it recently and really enjoyed the constant action. I’ve seen Tom Hardy in the The Dark Knight Rises and his voice work really impressed me. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink is a book that helped jumpstart my self-improvement journey. I forced myself to read his book one Fall Semester when I realized that I needed to adjust my thinking, habits, and actions.

How do you relate to literature/film?

Whenever I write, I picture the angles of the character’s perspectives and that relates a lot to film and the power dynamics certain protagonist hold (i.e., Low angle shots show weakness, High angle shots show fortitude.) I want the reader to perceive my characters and works in a way that they can picture it; that’s my overall goal. I also enjoy having my writing stand out, whether it’s with poetic devices or humour, I want the reader to have an audible reaction.


Sara Iqbal, Junior Representative

Double Major in English and French

A photo of Sara

What is your favorite book or film?

My favourite book is Crime and Punishment for so many reasons, but here are the main three: one, it provides such a raw and beautiful depiction of Russia during the 19th century, and as someone who loves learning about history, the historical aspect of the book made it super interesting! Two, despite being a pretty long book, the plot is so riveting that I found myself being able to read huge chunks of it in a single sitting - it’s just too good to put down! Third, the main character’s struggles with finding a sense of purpose, value, and meaning in life is so relatable and comforting!

How do you relate to literature/film?

I relate to literature and film in so many ways, but mainly through the sharing of memories. I feel like all writers, on some level, base their works on some aspect of their past. In this way, literature/ film is a way for people to share their experiences and memories with others. I love that, through writing and reading, I can relate my life story to that of others, and others can learn more about who I am!