Hello! My name is Paul Barrett. I am a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University. My research at McMaster employs digital humanities methods to investigate Austin Clarke’s archives and to understand Clarke’s place in the Canadian and Caribbean canons. Clarke is a particularly compelling case study for DH research as his writing regularly engages with the relationship between humanities and humanism that animate so many DH debates. I enter these debates by investigating DH methods from simultaneously technical and hermeneutic perspectives. My unique academic background — I have an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and English — is particularly suited to thinking about this relation between the computational and the humanities. My work on Clarke will be presented as part of a forthcoming web archive called Austin Clarke’s Aesthetics of Crossing; my DH research forms the basis for a forthcoming manuscript entitled Canadian Digital Humanities in Translation.
I am also the author of Blackening Canada: Diaspora, Race, Multiculturalism (University of Toronto Press, 2015). This book is a study of contemporary black diasporic writing located in Canada with a particular focus on the work of Dionne Brand, Austin Clarke, and Tessa McWatt. I bring the political and aesthetic practices of the black diaspora into a troubled dialogue with the politics and discourses of Canadian multiculturalism to argue that these writers practice a unique form of diasporic double consciousness that makes race matter in Canada. This work is the subject of a roundtable discussion in the Fall 2016 edition of Topia.
My scholarly publications demonstrate the range of my interests. I have published articles on depictions of race in videogames, Marian Engel’s treatment of animals, Robert Kroetsch’s experiments in game theory, Dionne Brand’s transnational sublime, Austin Clarke’s aesthetics of crossing, and Shane Book’s contemporary maroon poetics. I have a forthcoming paper in Canadian Literature entitled “Paraphrasing the Paraphrase OR What I learned by reading every issue of Canadian Literature and Studies in Canadian Literature / Études en littérature canadienne.”
I have also published a number of public venues. My memorialization of Austin Clarke was featured in the National Post. I also discussed the importance of critical race activism in the Toronto Pride March in the Walrus and historicized Canadian anti-black violence in NOW Magazine. Most recently I discussed the underfunding of humanities research on the TVO site (to be reprinted in the November 2016 CAUT Bulletin).
I am also a Communication Instructor and Lecturer in the Engineering Communication Program at the University of Toronto. In ECP I teach technical and professional writing, professional presentation, critical thinking, and forms of argumentation. I am involved in a range of courses including APS111, APS113, ESC101, ECE297, ESC301, ECE496, and ESC499.