The PROFile

Dr. W. Rory Dickson

Assistant professor, Department of Religion and Culture


The department of religion and culture is welcoming a new addition. Dr. Rory Dickson has joined the team to teach Islamic studies. 

Calgary-born Dickson didn’t always aspire to pursue Islamic studies. Even while pursuing his masters of religious studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, he hadn’t dedicated himself to Islamic studies. 

“Certainly all my research papers were almost exclusively on Islam or Islam-related topics, but I was also concerned to find a supervisor I really wanted to work with,” he says. 

Fortunately for him, he found a supervisor who inspired him and approached subjects with the same theoretical framework. 

With his ideal supervisor in place, Dickson then committed to a joint PhD program between Waterloo University and Wilfrid Laurier University. 

From there, he taught for two and a half years at South Dakota State University before getting the position at the University of Winnipeg (U of W). He’s enjoyed his time in Winnipeg so far. 

“I was pleasantly surprised by the food diversity choices. I’ve been eating my way through the city,” he says. 

As for the U of W, Dickson only has good comments. 

“I like the fact that it’s an urban campus, that it’s downtown. I think that that gives it a feel you wouldn’t have otherwise,” he says. “I like the idea that the university seeks to invent itself within the community and make genuine connections with the city and the people of the city.” 

This semester, Dickson is teaching classical Islam, a seminar on Islamic mysticism called Sufism and a class on fundamentalisms in the global context. 

Next semester, students can catch him in the classroom teaching gender and sexuality in Islam, contemporary Islam and a seminar on Qur’anic interpretations.


AGE: 35 

AREA OF RESEARCH: Islam, with a specialty in Sufism. 

NUMBER OF PEER-REVIEWED ARTICLES PUBLISHED: One book, four journal articles, three chapters in edited volumes. 

LOWEST GRADE IN UNIVERSITY: “W” for withdrawal in a sociology course (he didn’t even know he missed the midterm). 

FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF: Well, obviously my humility. (laughs) 

WHAT’S YOUR SUPERPOWER: Finding just the right GIF to use in a Facebook group chat. 

WORST TEACHING MOMENT: Wearing prescription sunglasses instead of real glasses and becoming a widespread “when the prof hungover too,” meme. 


BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Approaching the Qur’an: The Early Revelations by Michael Sells. “He has a poetic sensibility which I think is important to understand the Qur’an because it emerges out of the Arabic poetic tradition.”

Published in Volume 70, Number 7 of The Uniter (October 22, 2015)

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