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AQSA IJAZ

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About Me

I am a self-professed lover of words (philologist) at a time when philology seems to have lost its conceptual currency in modern humanities. With a long history of various border crossings, I was born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan where I was trained as a pilot and a classical musician before joining academia. I studied English Literature, Philosophy, and French in Lahore, and went on to discover the fields of South Asian and Religious Studies in Germany and the United States before pursuing my doctoral studies at the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University. As a premodernist, I am fascinated by the temporality of the past and diverse ways in which it elicits our scholarly and poetic attention. The drive to listen to and communicate the multilingual voices of the dead is at the heart of my academic and artistic work. It is this drive that has led me to write my doctoral dissertation on the 12th-century Persian poet, Nizami Ganjavi and the multilingual reception of his most celebrated love-poem Khusrau u Shirin in Persianate India. My research is geared toward challenging the methodological frameworks of European historiography and re-conceptualising the history of ideas from within the philological density of Islamicate India.

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Professional Experience

Background & Expertise

University of Toronto

Assistant Professor (Teaching Stream)

January 2023 - June 2024

Project Manager
The Global Past Research Initiative
Connaught Fund-University of Toronto

July 2024 - May 2025

Guided Study Director: Premodern Persian
Department of Religion and Historical Studies 
University of Toronto Mississauga

January 2023 - June 2024

Review Editor
The Marginalia Review of Books

June 2021 - Aug 2021

Urdu Instructor
Intensive Summer Training
4 hours, 5 days a week for 8 weeks

Sept 2021 - Dec 2021

Course Instructor
Advanced Urdu
McGill University

Sept 2019  - May 2020

Course Instructor
Intermediate Urdu
McGill University

Sept 2018- May 2019

Course Instructor
Introductory Urdu
McGill University

July 12, 2023

Book Reviewer 

July 2024 - May 2025

Translator

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Educational Background

September 2022 - August 203

Ian Stewart Graduate Fellow
University of Victoria

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September 2017 - Aug 2022

PhD Islamic Studies
McGill University

August 2012 - May 2014

MPhil English Literature

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Sept 2006 - Aug 2010

BA English Literature, Philosophy and French

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September 2015 - January 2016

Junior Faculty Fellow
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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August 2011 - Nov 2011

Fellow at Erfurt Summer School 
University of Erfurt

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Students' Comments

I have been studying Urdu under Aqsa Ijaz's instruction for two years, and it has been a
great pleasure to partake in her Advanced Urdu course this Spring 2021 semester. Aqsa ji has
a unique and versatile teaching style which adapts to her students, fostering the progression
of our learning in each lecture and throughout the semester. In class, she integrates cultural
and historical context with the language curriculum, which has enabled us, as her students, to
build an ever-growing passion for and interest in the Urdu language. It is evident that Aqsa ji
has a wealth of knowledge about Urdu, and she consistently takes this a step further. In a
manner that is accessible and easy to understand, she transfers that knowledge and makes
connections to her students, which adds dimension to the way that we learn. Whether that
means explaining the Perso-Arabic roots of a certain word, facilitating conversation about
Urdu news and film, or relating historical texts to contemporary South Asian stories, Aqsa ji
has made the Advanced Urdu course simultaneously educational, relevant, and interesting.
As an instructor, Aqsa ji has been instrumental to both my academic and personal growth.
What I have learned from her course and her teaching methods will certainly stay with me
long after my undergraduate career, and I am sure that this sentiment would be reflected
among her students and in any institution to which she contributes.
Wisaal Jahangir
McGill University '21
B.A. Psychology
Minor in Management

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Taking an Advanced Urdu class with Professor Ijaz has tremendously stimulated my  interest in the Urdu language as well as its literature. This is greatly due to the fact that  her syllabus and classes are very well structured and cover thought-provoking content.  Alongside this, she is extremely and impressively knowledgeable in a vast array of topics  regarding the language and culture of the time periods of the literature we cover, such as  the relevant history and vernacular. Her classroom is a comfortable place to discuss,  debate, and most importantly to absorb the intricacies of Urdu literature. She meets even  the most challenging and complex questions with detailed and extensive answers  stemming from the kind of in-depth knowledge only a person with an absolute passion  for their subject could possess. Her genuine, and often palpable, enthusiasm for the Urdu  language creates an atmosphere in which I feel excited to learn and invigorated when I  do.  

- Noor Saeed 

McGill University

I am now taking my second intermediate class with Aqsa as a teacher. I can say that  Aqsa is very patient, that she does not pick any favorite student, and that she is always  here to help us all. She has a way to create an atmosphere in which every mistake is an  opportunity to learn, where there is no such thing as a stupid question, and where we  are encouraged to grow as persons, ahead of being strictly students. I just feel good in  class. I never realize how quick a class has ended already. My Urdu has definitely  improved in her class. I didn’t even realize how much I was learning until I just felt it all  click together in one cohesive ensemble. I’d have so many other positive things to say  about her. Really! Don’t miss this opportunity to get to work with her. 

- Jean-Nicholas Courtemanche 

Concordia University

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