Barrett is a doctoral student specializing in pre-modern Japanese literature. After receiving his B.A. in Japanese from Pomona College he spent several years teaching in Japan and traveling throughout Asia and Central Europe. Possibly because of this, one of his main research interests is travel literature; others include medieval poetry, especially waka, and exile. His M.A. thesis was a study and translation of Michiyukiburi, a travel diary written in 1371 by Imagawa Ryoshun. His dissertation will continue his work on Ryoshun.