Ainsley Hawthorn, PhD, (she/her) is an author, cultural historian, and multidisciplinary artist based in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

She earned her doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Yale University, and her academic expertise includes sensory studies, Mesopotamian literature and religion, Middle Eastern dance, word origins, and the history of writing. Hawthorn is a past fellow of Distant Worlds (Munich) and the Advanced Seminar in the Humanities (Venice), and she has been invited to lecture on her research at universities in Germany, Austria, Italy, Canada, and the United States. Distant Impressions, which she co-edited with Anne-Caroline Rendu Loisel, is the first academic volume on sensory studies in the ancient Near East.

Hawthorn uses her academic knowledge to bring groundbreaking new ideas about the senses, history, and religion out of the ivory tower and to the general public. She is the co-creator and co-host of Apocalypse Then, a CBC Radio series that looks at past pandemics to help shed light on current events. She also blogs for Psychology Today, writes columns for the CBC, and has contributed to The Globe and Mail, the National Post, The Dance Current, TheIndependent.ca, and the Newfoundland Quarterly.

Her non-fiction anthology Land of Many Shores: Perspectives from a Diverse Newfoundland and Labrador was named one of the top ten NL books of 2021, and she received a 2022 Radio Television Digital News Award for best opinion column (East Region). Her first solo-authored non-fiction book, The Other Five Senses is represented by The Margret McBride Literary Agency).

Hawthorn is also a Middle Eastern and international folk dancer with extensive teaching and performance experience. Her latest performance project is the short film Calamus by Kenneth J. Harvey, in which she co-starred alongside Darren Ivany.

In her spare time, she creates textile art. Her first solo exhibition of fine embroidery was held at the gallery of the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador in March 2019.

She is available for interviews, speaking engagements, and workshops. Please send an e-mail for details.

Writing Awards

Awards and Honours

2022, Best Digital Opinion, Radio Television Digital News Awards (East Region), for the article "Think wearing masks in everyday life is a new concept? Think again"

2021, Top 10 Book of 2021, The Telegram, for the anthology Land of Many Shores

2006, Honourable Mention, 19th Annual Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror Anthology, for the short story "In Grandmother's House"

2004, McIlquham Foundation Prize in English, Queen’s University, for the short story "In Grandmother's House"

2003, James H. Stitt Prize in Poetry, Queen’s University, for the poem "Crossing the Break"


2022, Professional Artists' Travel Fund Grant, ArtsNL

2021, Research and Creation Grant, Canada Council for the Arts, for the anthology Outer Reaches/Inner Workings

2020, Concept to Realization Grant, Canada Council for the Arts, for the anthology Land of Many Shores

2020, Individual Artist Grant, City of St. John's, for the anthology Land of Many Shores

2020, Professional Artists' Travel Fund Grant, ArtsNL (declined due to COVID-19)

2019, Professional Project Grant, ArtsNL, for the book The Other Five Senses

Academic Honours & Fellowships

Public Engagement Awards

2018, Quick Start Fund Grant for Public Engagement, Memorial University

Postdoctoral Fellowships

2014, Visiting Research Fellowship, Distant Worlds: Graduate School for Ancient Studies, University of Munich

2013-14, Advanced Seminar in the Humanities Fellowship, Ca' Foscari University of Venice and Venice International University

Graduate Fellowships

2008-09, Paul C. Gignilliat Dissertation Fellowship, Yale University

2004-08, Yale University Graduate School Fellowship, Yale University

2004-05, Marty Memorial Scholarship, Queen’s University

Undergraduate Honours

2004, Medal in Philosophy, Queen’s University

2004, Jaganathan Muraleenathan Book Prize in Philosophy, Queen’s University

2004, Prize for Best Paper, Undergraduate Classics Conference, University of Alberta

2001-04, Dean’s Honour List with Distinction, Queen’s University

2003, Wallace Near Prize in Classics, Queen’s University

2002, John D.B. Walton Arts '45 Scholarship, Queen’s University

2001, Maclennan Prize in Greek, Queen’s University

Undergraduate Entrance Scholarships

2000-04, National Millennium Excellence Scholarship, Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation

2000-04, Chancellor’s Scholarship, Queen’s University

1999, Centenary of Responsible Government Scholarship, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

College Scholarships

1998-2000, United World College Scholarship, Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific

Adjudication Experience

2020, Writing Adjudicator, Senior Non-Fiction Category, NL Arts & Letters Awards

2013-Present, Dance Adjudicator, Various Programs, ArtsNL