A 2009 Trudeau fellow and a member of the Royal Society of Canada, Simon Harel is a full professor at the Université de Montréal, where he directs the Department of Comparative Literature. Prior to joining the university in 2011, he was the director of the Centre for the Study of Arts, Letters and Traditions at the Université du Québec à Montréal, in whose Department of Literary Studies he taught and conducted research for over 20 years.
Over the past 25 years, Simon Harel has pioneered an innovative field of research at the crossroads of literary and cultural studies. He was one of the first to examine the particularities of the experience of migration in urban areas in Quebec. His book Voleur de parcours, published in 1989, is recognized as one of the most noteworthy publications in Quebec cultural studies in the 1980s and 1990s. The author or editor of over thirty publications, Harel is interested in intercultural issues, the role of the stranger in society, and vulnerability in the spaces in which we live.
In recognition of the failings of the discourse on hybridization and cookie-cutter identity, Harel is presently concentrating on the delineation of the vacillating, often conflicting, forms of cultural mobility. In the spring of 2012, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation awarded him a Leaders Opportunity Fund grant to fund research infrastructure for the study of representations of new narrative and technological identities in urban life. The grant positions him as a leader in an emerging field, that of the study of stories of the mobile self.
Simon Harel has organized several large-scale events, such as Où va la culture?, a cultural happening that took place at the Université du Québec à Montréal in 2010, and Trajectoires Montréal (SSHRC 2012), a unique multidisciplinary experience that explored new manifestations of creativity in Montréal as well as the interactions between urban and peri-urban life in the greater Montréal area.