Derry, Ken

Associate Professor, Teaching Stream Religious Studies

Contact Information

Phone: 
905-569-4614
Room: 
EH 208B
Mailing Address: 
3359 Mississauga Rd., Erindale Hall
City: 
Mississauga
Province: 
Ontario
Postal Code: 
L5L 1C6
Office Hours: 
On leave until June 2017
Ken Derry
 
As an undergraduate student Ken Derry wandered a few different paths. He spent two years immersed in biophysics, and then turned to English and Japanese literature before finally discovering his true calling: the study of religion. He completed his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. all at the University of Toronto.
 
Dr. Derry’s academic focus is on the ways in which modern cultural products relate to more “traditional” religious beliefs and practices. What might the Bible tell us about Iron Man, for example – and vice versa? He has examined a range of topics including Christian symbolism, ghosts, Hong Kong film, superheroes, and Disney stories, and has drawn on research in such areas as colonialism, gender, hermeneutics, history, myth, narrative, politics, and ritual studies. Dr. Derry’s Ph.D. thesis examines issues of religion and violence in modern Canadian Native writings, and is the first full Religion and Literature monograph to consider the works of North American Indigenous authors. He currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.
 
Areas of specialization: Comparative Religion, Indigenous Traditions, Method and Theory, Religion and Literature/Film, Religion and Violence

 

Teaching

Ken Derry has been teaching courses at UofT since 1996, when he was still a graduate student. His approach emphasizes the importance of student experience, creativity, and critical engagement. To this end he has assigned an essay topic based on visiting a local religious site; conducted a class field trip to the Remembrance Day service in Streetsville; trained students to create, film, and edit interviews; and brought guest speakers to UTM such as Richie Mehta, director of the films Amal, Siddharth, and I'll Follow You Down.
 
This interest in experiential learning was first sparked by participation in the UofT undergraduate student exchange program at Kwansei Gakuin University. Dr. Derry’s year in Japan convinced him of the incredible, transformative power of such programs, and since 2000 he has been involved in administering, developing, and promoting study abroad opportunities at UofT. In 2012 and 2014, he had the great privilege to teach a course on religion as part of the university’s Summer Abroad Program in Hong Kong.

Current courses: RLG101H, RLG209H, RLG332H, RLG333H, RLG401H

 

Awards

Dr. Derry was incredibly honoured to be named as the recipient of the 2013 UTM Teaching Excellence Award. From 2011 to 2014 he also received the Dean’s Excellence Award and the Small Groups Award each year. While working as a full-time administrator on the St. George campus, he was presented with the 2009 University of Toronto "Stepping Up" award for enhancing the student experience, and the 2008 Arts & Science Student Union Urmila (Uma) Sarkar Award for Outstanding Service.

 

Other

Dr. Derry’s academic work has been supplemented and enhanced by critical encounters outside of the university context. He helped lead a summer camp on Lake Scugog for homeless men from Regent Park; passed on life skills to hearing impaired children near Christie Pits; taught English to students in Japan; and worked asa science and math instructor at an alternative elementary school in downtown Toronto. 

 

Articles and Book Chapters

 

Reviews

 

Education

B.A., M.A., and Ph.D., University of Toronto