Welcome!

Welcome!

Welcome to PaulBarrett.ca! I am a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. I am also the author of Blackening Canada: Diaspora, Race, Multiculturalism. Blackening Canada was the focus of a recent critical roundtable in Topia.  I have published recently on Austin Clarke’s aesthetics of crossing, Marian Engel’s ecocritical writing, and Robert Kroetsch’s narrative game theory. My public writing has been featured in The Walrus, The National Post, and NOW Magazine. My current research is at…

Read More Read More

Defunding the Humanities

Defunding the Humanities

The Canada First Research Excellence Fund’s announcement of grant recipients earlier this month was met with celebrations by many Canadian researchers and scholars. Nearly $1 billion was allocated to 13 large-scale projects at Canadian universities, including a seven-year neuroscience project at McGill University, the establishment of a Canadian Particle Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s University, a quantum research project at the University of Waterloo and a Laurentian University initiative to study the relationship between metal deposits and Earth’s evolution.While the projects are compelling and worthy, it’s notable that…

Read More Read More

Surviving Clarke’s Crossing

Surviving Clarke’s Crossing

This piece originally appeared in the June 30th edition of The National Post:You didn’t have to spend much time in this city before you encountered Austin Clarke. He was a resident figure at the Grand Hotel and Bistro 990, where the staff knew exactly how to prepare his martinis. He was a generous man who regularly hosted young writers, scholars and artists in his home for advice and a meal of bacchanalian proportions. Clarke prepared for such events with visits to Kensington Market, where vegetables, meat and…

Read More Read More

CFP: Neoliberal Tools or New Humanistic Critique? Toronto, May 25 – 27, 2017

CFP: Neoliberal Tools or New Humanistic Critique? Toronto, May 25 – 27, 2017

“Neoliberal Tools or New Humanistic Critique? Theorizing Class, Race, and Nation in the Digital Humanities”Mikinaakominis / TransCanadas. University of Toronto, May 25 – 27, 2017In recent years in Canada, the digital humanities has enjoyed increasing popularity as a tool for teaching, researching, and disseminating texts, and also a means of generating collaborative scholarship across disciplinary borders. However, the digital humanities, and perhaps its practitioners, have recently been described as a collection of neoliberal tools whose “institutional success has for the…

Read More Read More

Genealogies of the humanities

Genealogies of the humanities

The controversy in the digital humanities over David Allington’s, Sarah Brouillette’s, and David Golumbia’s recent article, “Neoliberal Tools (And Archives): A Political History of Digital Humanities” led to mostly predictable responses from humanities scholars, digital and otherwise. While the authors of this article offer a somewhat compelling account of the rise of the digital humanities — or at least one take on it — their arguments are not particularly novel nor unexpected. Indeed, anyone who has presented digital humanities work at…

Read More Read More

In Canada, its never about race

In Canada, its never about race

A black immigrant in Toronto waves a household object in a “threatening” manner. Police are called. The man is described as disturbed, unruly, unstable, and most-importantly — dangerous. Concerned police plead with the man to drop the weapon but their cries are ignored. Finally, they are forced to shoot him. He dies. A familiar tragedy.In 1979 the man was Albert Johnson, a Jamaican immigrant who was killed in his Manchester Ave. home on a Sunday morning holding a lawn edger. His death led to protests from…

Read More Read More

Argumentative Game Genie: Rhetoric in the digital humanities

Argumentative Game Genie: Rhetoric in the digital humanities

I find that a central challenge of presenting digital humanities work is the need to speak across multiple languages: technical, humanistic, visual, algorithmic. To borrow Susan Brown’s phrase, DH work usually involves working in the gaps between disciplines and these gaps come with all kinds of linguistic and communication difficulties. How do we communicate concepts that we know are important to humanistic inquiry when those concepts rely on analyses of algorithms, data visualizations, geographic information systems and similar obtuse technical concepts and tools? Most…

Read More Read More

Austin Clarke’s Aesthetics of Crossing

Austin Clarke’s Aesthetics of Crossing

My recent article, ‘“Our words spoken among us, in fragments:”’ Austin Clarke’s Aesthetics of Crossing’ is free and available in the Journal of West Indian Literature. Here’s a brief excerpt — click for the entire article:In a fascinating and revealing interview of Austin Clarke by Dionne Brand and Rinaldo Walcott, Brand opens the discussion by wondering:Why isn’t your work more out there?… why isn’t it acknowledged, because you have been writing a very, very long time,… and I want to…

Read More Read More

Black Lives Matter? Multiculturalism & Race

Black Lives Matter? Multiculturalism & Race

This post originally appeared in Now Magazine: The shooting death of Andrew Loku by a Toronto police officer on July 5 is hauntingly similar to the killing of Albert Johnson by police in 1979. The shootings are separated by nearly 40 years, but both men were shot in their homes on a Sunday morning. Both were wielding household objects, Loku a hammer, Johnson garden shears. Both were black. And in both cases mental illness was cited as a contributing factor…

Read More Read More

Codework and Carework: Editing Modernism in Canada

Codework and Carework: Editing Modernism in Canada

I spent one year as the Editing Modernism in Canada postdoctoral fellow which I mostly spent working in the McMaster University Archives reading and writing about Austin Clarke and learning about the digital humanities. I was somewhat surprised when EMiC decided to fund my Clarke project but as I learned more about the organization I realized that there really is no strict mandate for EMiC work. Their working definitions of modernism and Canadian writing are wide and flexible and indeed part…

Read More Read More