Reading in Tamagawa Garden

Winslow Baril

Winslow Baril, Essay Contest Winner in the in the Second-Year Category, Innovation Award, 2022-2023

Winslow BarilIn his path to a Bachelor of Arts in English, Winslow Baril offers wise and valuable lessons about his “non-conventional approach” to this pursuit.  While completing his coursework, Winslow describes a mindful set of tenets:  “[L]earning without fear, allowing myself harmless comforts, and having compassion and understanding for the things that I feel.”  This personal investment certainly informs his award winning project:  “The Act of Creation: An Exploration of Transgender Possibilities in Paradise Lost Through Pottery.” 

The project—focused on the production of a handmade vase, painted with transgendered reimaginations of Adam and Eve and accompanied by an amalgam of Bible verses—allows Winslow to engage with the long poem in ways that exceed textual, as well as conventional, interpretation.  Winslow describes rethinking “the supposedly purest and most perfect of God’s creations, and showing how they relate to me and my transgender experience.”  This rethinking is also a component of a more general approach to literature and art.  Winslow enjoys “deep-diving into all sorts of media,” particularly in the form character studies, as shown in his recasting of Adam and Eve from Milton’s poem.

Winslow’s vase and essay were the final project for Dr. Sarah Crover’s Topics in Renaissance Literature.  “It was my first class with Sarah,” Winslow notes, “and she was one of the key components in my enjoyment of the class, though my classmates and the subject matter were also incredible.”  While relatively unfamiliar with the period, Winslow did not shy away.  Feeling supported and encouraged, he embraced expanding intellectual boundaries along with filling in gaps. 

Not surprisingly then, Winslow recommends an eclectic mix of texts—from a classic like Frankenstein, to a cult classic like Star Trek: The Next Generation, and a unique adaptation like Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.  Each of these resonate personally as part of a larger effort to “honour all of my selves” Winslow notes, from the “five-year-old trapped inside of a twelve-year-old” to the “sixteen-year-old trapped inside of a twenty-five-year-old.”  In kind, Winslow extends that same message to us all:  “Do your past selves proud” and find what brings you inspiration and meaning.