Vancouver Island University
Paul Watkins is Assistant Professor of English at Vancouver Island University. Paul’s areas of interest are in Canadian literature (with a focus on African Canadian literature), Indigenous literatures, jazz and improvisation, African American literature, graphic novels, Digital Humanities, music and poetry, DJing, and film. His doctoral dissertation, “Soundin’ Canaan: Music, Resistance, and Citizenship in African Canadian Poetry,” addresses the politics and ethics of Canadian multicultural policy and citizenship—focusing on intersections between music and text as a border-crossing praxis—particularly as voiced by African Canadian poets. Currently, he is reworking this manuscript with the hopes to turn it into a published book.
Aside from numerous book, music, and film reviews, his publications include a paper in Critical Studies in Improvisation titled, “Disruptive Dialogics: Improvised Dissonance in Thelonious Monk and Wu-Tang Clan’s 36 Chambers” and a paper in MaComère focusing on jazz poetics in Dionne Brand’s Ossuaries. He was also a guest editor with Dr. Rebecca Caines on a special issue of Critical Studies in Improvisation focused on Improvisation and Hip-Hop. Currently, he is finishing a paper on music, sound, and improvisation in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks for a special issue book publication on the mysterious world of Twin Peaks due in 2017. At VIU, he is the Artistic Director of the “Writers on Campus” series, which brings esteemed authors to the Nanaimo campus, such as George Elliott Clarke, Erin Moure, and Eden Robinson. Additionally, Digital Humanities has been an area where Paul has invested energy, working in 3D printing, sound, and digital pedagogy. He has been involved with both the MeTA lab in Nanaimo and the Innovation Lab in Cowichan where he recently built a sound lab that will be put to generative use by students and professors/ researchers. A current project is recording the oral histories and songs of Indigenous Elders.
In addition to critical writing and community engagement, Paul’s work is adventurous, creative, and exploratory. In 2013, he finished an avant-garde DJ project entitled Dedications, and his next creative endeavour is a collection of poetry with the tentative title, Listenings. Paul has a longstanding history with ICASP/IICSI, and brings institutional knowledge from his past experiences and project implementations.