Archive for March, 2019

The Digital Sandbox of Hypertext Literature

Deklan IH

It wasn’t until I found myself clicking on the various body parts of Shelly Jackson’s digital portrait that I began to sense the deeply personal and transgressive nature of the literature I was exploring. Jackson’s my body – a Wunderkammer allows the reader to explore written memoirs revealed through interactive HTML links mapped onto an artistic image of her person, and as such forms a quintessential example of digital Hypertext literature – the distinct genre of linking, non-sequential writing.

Image: (CC)

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“Poetry is the new pop, man”: A Renaissance in Poetry in the Age of Social Media

Michelle Kent

If you have a social media profile and are yourself a teen or twenty-something, chances are that in the past few years, you’ve seen poetry popping up on your screen as you scroll along on your laptop, smartphone, or smart refrigerator with a built-in screen. You have also probably noticed that no, this poetry isn’t the work of Chaucer or Shakespeare, Wordsworth or Whitman, Pound or Plath, or any other canonical poet that you most definitely read thoroughly (and did not use SparkNotes for at all) in English classes of the past. Upon taking a closer look, you might see names like Rupi Kaur, R. M. Drake, r.h. Sin, Nikita Gill, and Amanda Lovelace appear beneath these poems. Combined, these ultra-contemporary internet poets have well over 7 million followers on Instagram. In an interview with poet Rupi Kaur, arguably the most well-known of these poets with 3.6 million Instagram followers of her own, Jimmy Fallon offhandedly states that “poetry is the new pop, man” (“Rupi Kaur Reads” 0:08). So, who are these popular poets, and what do they want from us? Beyond that, if almost everyone rolled their eyes at poetry in grade school, why is it so trendy now? Are we all in the middle of a poetry renaissance in the digital age?

Before tackling these questions, some introductions are in order. If you haven’t yet been formally introduced, please let me do the honours. Blog post reader, meet Instapoetry.

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Fighting Facebook Addiction

Kianne H.

Figure 1: “Gold iPhone 6 With Note Pads.”,

If I was to randomly ask people around campus, “what is Facebook?”, I believe every single person would be able to provide me with, at least, a general definition. If I asked, “do you or someone you know have a Facebook account?” I also can confidently assume that each person would answer yes. The reason I have such confidence on their answers is because, since being released fourteen years ago, Facebook has quickly become the largest Social Networking Site (henceforth SNS) on the internet hosting around 1.5 billion users (Marino et al 51). 1.5 billion is a very high proportion of the world’s population therefore, I suspect that many students have or know someone with a Facebook account. If I was to ask the same student or group of students, “would you consider anyone I your life a Facebook addict?” I can’t necessarily predict their answers with the same assurance as before. While I want to presume their answers would be yes, “not all people who spend large amounts of time on Facebook every day are necessarily addicted” (Kanat-Maymon et al 232) so it is difficult to accurately answer yes or no.

With 1.5 billion active users on Facebook and more users registering each day, it is not surprising that Facebook is the largest SNS in the world. A 2018 article on Facebook use claims that, “Every minute on [Facebook], 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded” (Biolcati et al 1). People are spending a large amount of time on Facebook, seeking social satisfaction through the likes and comments on their posts, leading to more and more becoming addicted.

Figure 2: “Four People Holding Mobile Phones.”

Personally, I have found myself in situations where I am with friends and everybody around me is on their phone. They have no interest in socializing with the people around them and instead of building and maintaining personal relationships in the moment, they socialize virtually with other people over SNS like Facebook. I could name multiple people in my life who are addicted to Facebook including my parents and some of my friends. The problem is the decrease in personal face-to-face conversations and the impact on the quality and number of relationships because individuals are spending large amounts of time behind screens.

A 2018 study explains some of the many factors contributing to Facebook addiction. Although there are many, I will address only a few including loneliness, extraversion, and neuroticism. Loneliness contributes to higher chances of succumbing to Facebook addiction because, “lonely individuals turn to FB to find companionship and relief from problems and worries related to socialization” (Biolcati et al 7). When people are lonely they will often look to build relationships and find happiness in a variety of places, like through Facebook, and the satisfaction of connecting, whether virtually or not, encourages more Facebook use. Furthermore, extraversion and neuroticism are other personality traits that can influence Facebook addiction. Just as Facebook serves as a relationship platform for people who experience loneliness, it also “provides another platform for extraverts to communicate with friends and contacts made off-line” (Biolcati et al 8). When extroverts need a communication outlet and are not surrounded by people, they will likely use social media as a communication outlet. Neurotic individuals may also be influenced to use Facebook as an outlet for their anxious feelings or perhaps to present themselves in a way that is entirely controlled by what they choose to post. “Due to their social anxiety” neurotic individuals often prefer “social networking communication… due to their social anxiety” (Biolcati et al 8). Studies show that “extraverted and neurotic individuals [are] at [a] higher risk for maladaptive use of SNSs like Facebook” (Kanat-Maymon et al 233).

Figure 3: Dziuba, Tobias. “Photo of Laptop near Plant.”

Facebook addiction has many consequences. For one, people addicted to social media “may find that it is difficult for them to focus their attention on other activities without thinking about things that they want to do [on] social media” (Sriwilai, and Charoensukmongkol 428). People who are victim to Facebook addiction find it increasingly difficult to practice mindfulness. They can’t be present through a situation or experience because their screens are so tempting. They struggle with the “ability to be mindful to what they are doing… because of the distraction caused by the urge to access social media” (Sriwilai, and Charoensukmongkol 428). A study of the impacts of social media addiction states that another consequence is social exhaustion. The article claims, that addiction to social media services, such as Facebook, can be associated with emotional exhaustion because people are “attentive to one’s thoughts and feelings without reacting upon them” and because of social media, they can “easily let go of any negative thought and feeling that they are experiencing and be less affected by it” (Sriwilai, and Charoensukmongkol 429). The consequences that come from addiction to SNSs like Facebook can severely impact the emotional and mental stability of any person who spends an overwhelming amount of time on social media.

Facebook is a social media site that billions of people have access to and because of its features, many become addicted. Although I have only presented the drawbacks of SNS use, I would like to briefly mention that SNSs like Facebook do have benefits. For example, Facebook has allowed me, and many others, to stay in contact with many friends across the world and serves as a platform for sharing information and communicating with groups and other members. Facebook does have benefits, but it is important to remain cautious with the amount of time you spend on the SNS as well as the intentions behind it.

If you’re a lonely individual, have neurotic tendencies, or are a major extrovert I caution you to be careful with the time you spend on Facebook. Ensuring that you are not putting an excessive amount of time and energy into when and how you appear online could save you from the mental and emotional harm that comes with Facebook and SNS addiction.



Biolcati, Roberta et al. “Facebook Addiction: Onset Predictors”. Journal Of Clinical

Medicine, vol 7, no. 6, 2018, pp. 1-12. MDPI AG, doi:10.3390/jcm7060118.

Kanat-Maymon, Yaniv et al. “Contingent Self-Worth And Facebook

Addiction”. Computers In Human Behavior, vol 88, 2018, pp. 227-235. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.chb.2018.07.011.

Marino, Claudia et al. “Modeling The Contribution Of Personality, Social Identity And

Social Norms To Problematic Facebook Use In Adolescents”. Addictive Behaviors, vol 63, 2016, pp. 51-56. Elsevier BV, doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.07.001.

Sriwilai, Kanokporn, and Peerayuth Charoensukmongkol. “Face It, Don’t Facebook It:

Impacts Of Social Media Addiction On Mindfulness, Coping Strategies And The Consequence On Emotional Exhaustion”. Stress And Health, vol 32, no. 4, 2015, pp. 427-434. Wiley, doi:10.1002/smi.2637.


A Battle Between E-Books & Printed Books: Who Will Survive in the End?

Mattia Gregory

With technology playing such a major role in our lives today many books have begun to appear as digital forms rather than your original paperback. There are pros and cons to both sides of the debate on whether digital books (eBooks) will take over the form of printed books. Or will printed books continue to be the original format of reading material?

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Something Wiki’d This Way Comes: An Examination of the Controversies and Misuses of Wikipedia

Michael Spehar

source:, Medium, 17 May 2016,

When inevitably lectured on the “unreliability and unacceptability” of using Wikipedia as a source, the less-savvy student may well roll their eyes and use Wikipedia in the way that many already do: to gain a preliminary bedrock of understanding from which to seek other official sources and construct a paper of proper university acumen. But the savvy of the 2018-19 English 204 at the U of S surely knows better: to question the implications of such a centralized, ubiquitous hub for the world’s knowledge. If Wikipedia serves at that previously-mentioned bedrock of understanding, what un-fortuitous conclusions might be reached if such a foundation was fallacious? Spurious? Biased in the extreme, or claiming authority from editors either maliciously motivated, or merely mischievous? What follows are several such examples of less-than-altruistic tampering with the integrity of Wikipedia as an encyclopedia, driven by either malicious, capricious, or perhaps even humorous.

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Watching YOU – Experiencing Serialized Television

Mariana Martinez

Do something for me. Go on, open the streaming site Netflix ( in your closest device; if you don’t have an account, annoy your friend until they let you use their account and enlist them for this experiment. Now, select the new show YOU and – this is the most important part – randomly choose an episode. It cannot be the first one, and preferably not the second one either. Once you have done this, enjoy!

Okay, some of you reading this will be already horrified at the idea of doing such a thing, you just feel it’s wrong. For the brave, naïve souls who actually did it, chances are that you had no idea what was going on, you didn’t know if the protagonists are good or evil, and there were scenes you were sure were meant to shock or move you, but the moments simply fell flat in the midst of all that confusion. This is because YOU, like most television shows nowadays, is serialized – its plot is continuous and unfolds throughout multiple episodes in a chronological manner – as opposed to the episodic shows – where each episode has a self-contained plot, as in procedural shows. Because serialization has become the standard, we often forget that television experience has been turned upside down in the past decade. Now, by using this show, let’s explore what these changes are and how they influence the way we watch television.

First, YOU was produced by Lifetime where an episode was streamed weekly, but it wasn’t until it was bought and the ten episodes were dropped on Netflix that it became an international sensation. This is, in part, because the show is an adaptation of the 2014 novel of the same name written by Caroline Kepnes, and therefore the series is structured like a book, where the story expands throughout the whole run, with each episode ending in a cliff-hanger that compels you to continue watching. Netflix, then, provides a similar experience of reading a novel because all the content is available at once and it is up to us, the audience, to decide when to watch the episodes.

In the first few minutes of the pilot, Joe Goldberg is narrating the story to a person that soon is revealed to be his romantic interest, Beck. Beginning with their meeting, we follow Joe in his obsessive efforts to ‘get’ and ‘protect’ her, and the obstacles that are put in his way. The plot itself is innovative because it twists the conventional romance, but it is the serialized format of a television series that gives YOU – which could have been translated to a movie – the space to develop its characters. We are disgusted by Joe’s actions toward Beck (SPOILER ALERT: stealing her panties, killing her ‘boyfriend’), but we have the time to know her and she stops being simply a victim to become a flawed, yet ultimately, relatable woman. Joe also transcends into a layered character as we see other facets beyond the creepy stalker, we get to learn about his backstory and witness his kindness. It is because the development that the characters experience that the events of later episodes have the emotional stakes that they do – it is so satisfying when (SPOILER ALERT) Beck finally discovers the truth about Joe because for episodes we have been frustrated by her ignorance. We are heartbroken by her murder because we got attached to her in a long period of time. Even Paco’s decision to not help Beck is understandable because we witnessed Ron’s ongoing abuse and Joe’s benevolent acts toward him. The serialized format gives us the context that we need for the events to matter.

Not all aspects of television serials are wonderful. For one, it requires effort – as of right now it takes over seven hours to watch, and as new seasons are released this number will increase. Moreover, as proved by our experiment, episodes cannot be viewed independently and as a casual viewer or someone who wants to rewatch a few episodes of a beloved show, episodic sitcoms such as Friends are more appealing, and profitable for networks who stream show reruns in unchronological order. Lastly, if YOU continues to succeed with audiences, it may follow the path of many shows that were dragged on with filler episodes, jeopardizing their quality.

In the end, shows like YOU are shaped by its serialized structure, demanding our time and attention, but giving us complexity in storytelling and character development in return. Whether it is a shift we like or not, it looks like this trend is here to stay and shows like YOU will continue to be produced and consumed by eager audiences. Remember, the “last time this happened — in 19th century England [with] narrative serialization, the novel changed for good” (Jones).


Works Cited

Andreeva, Nellie, and Nellie Andreeva. “Lifetime Buys Drama From Greg Berlanti &

Sera Gamble, Sets Premiere Date For Euthanasia Series ‘Mary Kills People’: TCA.” Deadline, Deadline, 13 Jan. 2017,

Jones, Chris. “TV Storytelling Could Change Our Stories for Good.” Chicago Tribune, Chicago

Tribune, 22 Mar. 2014,

Mittell, Jason. Complex TV: the Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. New York University Press, 2015.

Romano, Nick. “Netflix Puts ‘YOU’ on Track for over 40 Million Member Views in First Four Weeks.”,, 17 Jan. 2019,

The Telephone Game of Scientific Knowledge

Wyatt Bernier

Photo by Reynaldo Brigantty from Pexels

We all know that information originates with experts, is transmitted through the media, and is eventually received by the general public. We also know that lately, the accuracy and reliability of information has been less than adequate, what with flat-earthers, anti-GMO groups, and anti-vaxxers running rampant. But what we cannot seem to figure out is who is responsible. If we were to ask academics, journalists, and common people, they would all blame each other, but the reality is that we are all at fault. Experts making unsubstantiated claims, journalists sensationalizing academics, and the general public mindlessly reading news are just a few of the issues plaguing the broken game of telephone we have been playing with scientific facts.

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Threatened Libraries? The Constant Evolution of Public Libraries

Sophia Charyna

In a course titled “The History and Future of the Book,” we have discussed the humble beginnings of language, writing, and the literary canon. In the remainder of this course, we will continue to explore what the future of the book looks like. Evidently, the digitization of books and scholarship has a remarkable impact on the publication, distribution, and borrowing of books and other materials.

Figure 1. From

When was the last time you went to a Public Library? As an English major, it’s a little embarrassing to say that I don’t remember the last time I did.

Also, embarrassing was my (until recent) belief in the stereotype “dying libraries.” English majors often encounter the constant questions of post-degree careers: “What are you going to do with that degree,” “teach English?”, “Work in a library? That’s not a career that’s going to last!” In an article written by an American librarian Kelli Cross, she accounts: “Public libraries have been busy. And getting busier. Per research conducted by the American Library Association, ‘in 2013, there were 1.5 billion in-person visits to public libraries across the U.S., the equivalent of more than 4 million visits each day. That’s 2,854 per minute’” (Cross). Due to the continuous evolution of libraries to suit the requirements and requests of the community they serve, they continue to have a patronage. Living within is a privileged group, I believe it is often easy to forget that the services offered by public libraries are essential to some intersectional groups of our city.

Figure 2. Beginner books, from

As a beginning reader, I wanted to read as much as possible, but my skill level and age kept me constrained to short books that were interesting to me. It didn’t make sense for my parents to buy every book that I read (I’d only read them once!). Having access to a public library provided me with a world of information, what felt like an endless supply of books, and the freedom to explore what I was interested in. For a long time, this was primarily children’s fiction that included magic, dragons, or preferably, both. Having this access, along with encouragement from my parents and teachers, made me a lifelong reader, and lover of books (which explains my choice of major).

Reflecting on the time the I spent in the library in my hometown with extremely positive memories — I can’t help but feel a little guilty for not continuing to use the public library as a resource. Talking to my peers and friends, many of us have expressed that we don’t visit the library as much as we used to.  Why is this?

One: I Read Less for “Fun”

A harsh reality of adulthood. And student-hood. When I decide on a book I’d like to read, I am far more likely to get it from a bookstore or borrow it from someone that I know.

Two: Libraries are Different

With these changes that have been made to public libraries to become places of resource for those who need them, they have become less necessary for me. Leading to… #3.

Three: I Don’t Think I Need the Library

Libraries have had to adapt to a digital generation. Libraries within the Saskatoon Public System offer Books and Magazines, as well as extensive offerings of digital options, technology rentals, the only free public access to the internet as well as video game rentals, music and other forms of media. Perhaps, I have felt less inclined to access public library services, because I am privileged to have access to the internet at home, as well as streaming services for digital media such as Netflix and Spotify.

Figure 3. Saskatoon Library. From

Surely with the changes that libraries have made for the times, there are new uses to discover. First, I went to the Saskatoon Public Library Website. Turns out my library card is expired, so first thing on the agenda was to get a new one. I was prepared to drive to my local library and sign up, but I could sign up for one online. With a Library Card (digitally) in hand, I began to explore what was available to me. SPL has a full digital library of high-quality audiobooks for rental, as well as Ebooks, TV, movies, and other digital media. In physical libraries, they offer free internet access, computer access, and other technology for borrowing. In addition to each of these, there are exceptional services available online and in person. Some options I found included: “Your Next Great Read,” which invites a patron to provide a list of interests, and books that they enjoy, and a librarian who specializes in that area or genre will suggest other titles you may have never heard of.  If you are interested in starting a Book Club, they offer a “Book Club in a Bag,” that provides multiple copies of the same novel as well as guiding questions for discussion.

Libraries are essential components of communities. Often, especially in small towns, they are a central building, with multiple uses, that is important to many intersections within those communities. In Saskatoon, public libraries are one of a few places that offer free access to technology and the internet, in addition to books, public archives, magazines, movies, television, and video games.  Libraries are built with multi-use spaces that can be used for community gathering, artistic exploration, and education. From programs for Adult literacy education, to Youth Poetry Slams, the library is a gathering place for children, creatives, and academics. Knowing what resources are available, I aim to use them more, and with a renewed appreciation of a libraries place in a community, I intend to promote the continued funding and support of the institution.

Works Referenced and Cited:    

“Adults.”  Saskatoon Public Library. Accessed February 13, 2019.

Cross, Kelli. “Libraries: Dying or Thriving?” Medium, Accessed February 14, 2019.

“Digital Library.” Saskatoon Public Library. Accessed February 14, 2019.

“The Role of Modern Libraries” SPL Connects, Accessed February 13, 2019.