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…

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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…

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Austin Clarke, Dennis Lee and Nation Language

Austin Clarke, Dennis Lee and Nation Language

When Austin Clarke was revising his short story “The Motor Car” for the Collection When He Was Free and Young and Used to Wear Silks he worked with Anansi editor, poet, and children’s book writer, Dennis Lee (Alligator Pie!). Lee provided extensive notes for Clarke’s proposed stories, including extensive summary and manuscript comments for both the new and revised stories.Lee generally praised Clarke’s work, describing “An Easter Carol” as “breathtaking” and “Give Us This Day: And Forgive Us” as “superb.” One area of concern Lee…

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Where the gorblummuh is here? CanLit, Clarke, and Algorithmic Criticism

Where the gorblummuh is here? CanLit, Clarke, and Algorithmic Criticism

One of the questions that haunts my research is why is Austin Clarke’s writing so marginal within Canadian Literature? Clarke is not only a foundational Canadian author but also one of Canada’s most prolific. His first book, The Survivors of the Crossing, is contemporary with The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz and The Double Hook and predates Northrop Frye’s infamous conclusion to Klinck’s Literary History of Canada. Clarke has, therefore, been concerned with the question of “Where is Here,” from a diasporic perspective, well before CanLit ever articulated that as the…

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Objectivity & Digital Humanities

Objectivity & Digital Humanities

I find Glen Worthey’s post about the relationship between Digital Humanities & Russian Formalism really compelling. He gives a useful  overview of russain formalist criticism and then suggests:“I’m here to proclaim that the digital humanities are a 21st-century version of Russian Formalism of a hundred years ago.  … we digital humanists – including us digital humanities librarians – in some sense have all come out of Eikhenbaum’s great essay, and out of the foundational writings, approaches, and ideas from Eikhenbaum’s fellow…

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No Really, Where is Here???

No Really, Where is Here???

Stephen Marche’s polemic on the dea(r)th of Canadian Literature reads at times like the musings of the Manhattan ad executive as he soars over the Iowan countryside, commenting on the folksy ways of the people 30,000 feet below. As his argument jets between Atwood, Ondaatje, and Munro, the rest of CanLit receives a flyover. We learn that Lampman, Moodie, and Johnson were all “intensely marginal” and “not particularly good,” that “Despite the fact that Munro won the Nobel Prize, Atwood will always be…

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Clarke’s Narrative Realism, Data Visualization & GIS

Clarke’s Narrative Realism, Data Visualization & GIS

One of the central tensions in Austin Clarke’s work is between his depiction of very real, accurate movement & imagined movement. The places characters go & the places they imagine they might go.Clarke’s attention to movement is at the heart of his diasporic poetics: he captures the black Atlantic ethos of movement across borders alongside the regulation of the movement of black people by the state and the police. Clarke’s most recent novel, More, for instance, begins with a sentence that extends four pages where the…

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Exhibit B — “fixed in the ether of history”

Exhibit B — “fixed in the ether of history”

I’m particularly troubled by Luminato’s recent efforts to bring Brett Bailey’s Exhibit B to Toronto. Bailey’s artistic arrangement (creation? performance?) purports to represent the history of human zoos and link them to contemporary politics of surveillance, control, and imprisonment of racialized bodies. Bailey sees a continuum between the racist thinking of human zoos, the white supremacist devaluing of black bodies and subjects and contemporary imprisonment of so-called illegal migrants. Critics of his work however suggest that Bailey’s work reproduces the very structures of racism that…

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Fierce Departures: Albert Johnson

Fierce Departures: Albert Johnson

Quickly checking some facts for the manuscript, and I stumbled across this headline describing Albert Johnson’s killing. Part of the historical basis for Dionne Brand’s thirsty, Neil Bissoondath’s Innocence of Age, and large sections of Austin Clarke’s MORE. Officially forgotten by the selective memory of state multiculturalism: