• Announcements

    ESA Executive Elections – 2022/23

    Looking for a fun opportunity to get involved with the English undergraduate community while developing leadership skills? We are officially seeking executives for next year’s ESA team. This is a great way to develop new skills, meet new people, form connections in the English department, and have an influence on campus. The executive team collaborates to plan everything from ice cream cake socials to The Colloquium, supports initiatives like The Garden Statuary, and connects with students, other clubs, and the department. New ideas are more than welcome, and this is a platform that can help you realize them. We will be accepting nominations until 4:00 PM on Monday, March 28, 2022. Online elections will…

  • Blog

    I’m doing a BSc and a BA. Why?

    “We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt.” -Cooper, Interstellar I was fourteen when my family and I went to see Christopher Nolan’s film Interstellar. Back then, my destiny was to be an actress. I was represented by outstanding agency and was skipping classes to attend auditions and call backs. My weekends were reserved for acting classes and filming demo reels. We went to watch this movie so we could support another kid at my acting school who was in the film. I remember seeing their face pop up…

  • Announcements

    The 2022 Colloquium: Meet our Presenters!

    The ESA’s Colloquium 2022 is underway! The focus of this conference is to showcase the breadth and depth of scholarship being conducted in the department and to allow students an opportunity to showcase their work. This year, four talented undergraduate students have been selected to present their own research alongside our talented faculty guest, Dr. Britton. Our student presenters this year are Haylee Kopfensteiner, Aimee Koristka, Colby Payne, and Macy Quigg. Find more information about the panelists below! The event will be held on Friday, March 11th from 4-6 PM in the IKB Dodson room. Please fill out this RSVP form if you are planning on attending. We have limited…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition,  Announcements

    2022 Short Story Competition’s Winners

    I am pleased to announce the ESA’s first ever Short Story Competition’s winners, as voted by our members: First place: “New Clothes” by Kagiso Pupp Second place: “The Sky, Today” by Olivia McNeill Third place: “i am pretty and i do not long for your approval” by Kayla Wilford Thank you to everyone who participated, both by voting and by sharing your creative works. Each and every single work was read a plethora of times and some of these stories truly resonated with their readers. Even though the competition is over, I am happy to share that the entries are still accumulating new reads daily and are being enjoyed by…

  • Announcements

    Meme Making Competition

    The ESA’s Instagram (@Ubc_esa) account is hosting a meme making competition, where anyone who follows the Instagram account can submit their own English-related memes. This includes both literature and language, so there are plenty of options for you to get creative. When: Submissions open February 11 and close 19. Final voting will take place on Monday, February 21. Who can submit: Anyone that is following the ESA Instagram page! To submit, please use this Google form. Meme templates can be found on the original Instagram post here.

  • Announcements

    Come Meet us!

    The ESA will be participating in the AMS Clubs’ Day 2022 with our very own booth! Stop by to learn more about the club, future and ongoing events, or anything else about life as an English student. Our booth number will be updated here once we find out. p.s: we might have chocolates!

  • 2022 Short Story Competition

    In the Midnight Hour

    Billy raced down Augusta Avenue. He ducked under storefront awnings as small droplets of water began to fall from the sky. A large puff of smoke drifted in the air outside Bunner’s Bakeshop, cannabis and tobacco interlaced with the lingering scent of sugary baked goods. At the end of the block was a poetry jazz cafe called The Midnight Hour, easily identified by the large mural painted next to the entryway. The painting depicted a strange man who held one finger to his lips as though he was hushing onlookers. Billy stared into the eyes of the mural’s familiar face and winked. He pulled his baseball cap further down so…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition,  Blog

    New Clothes

    It was still dark out when Midha came into the room of her 6-year-old daughter. The little girl was curled up in a ball under the light sheets, her tiny body barely a bulge in the old worn mattress. She had pushed her pillow out from under her head and replaced it with her hand. Hand to cheek she slept silently and Midha watched her for a moment before gently shaking her awake. Hands on the child’s skinny shoulders. “You have to wake up” said Midha. “If we don’t leave now we will miss the train, and it’s a long walk to town”. – Midha held the hand of the…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition

    Familiar Figure

    “Jas, there’s someone I want you to meet.” Amy, my friend since the fourth year of high school, stood next to a boy a few inches taller than I was. There were strands of his black hair dangling near his face like the thin legs of a spider. He was wearing a forest green long sleeve polo and light brown trousers, ironed to perfection. His face looked familiar. “Frank, I’m in my third year.” He reached out his hand. “Amy and I met in philosophy.” I looked over at Amy. A small smile was etched onto her usually banal expression.  “Jasper, second year. Have we met before?” I replied. He…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition

    The Conversation

    one phone call, unexpected. two faces, mama and dada. three questions, and i am thinking– where is the line between keeping myself whole and stringing out pieces to tie me to my parents? how much do these bindings hold us, how much will i pay for them, what is the cost?  it all happens so quickly that when i look back, i remember only the little pebbles that got caught in my tight throat, triggering an earthquake in my voice. a slight tremor and it’s all do you know who you are yet? my father says he cannot look me in the eye, he says why are you getting defensive,…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition

    Pistachio Meditation

    —–Hymns – i found god in lonesomeness glory in solitude i go hours without speaking and equally as many without shutting up – i pray into my kitchen cabinets as i make myself lunch at four thirty i tell them about my imaginings and have conversations with nobody – i dip my hands in flat diet coke and cross myself i allow myself to give in to the dizziness and listen to the hymn that my blood pumps through my brain. — — —– Red There was a red car. Parked. Red like those cinnamon hearts my grandma used to let me try, the ones that made my tongue burn.…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition

    A Slim Chance

    “Excited about your day-off, babe?” “Yeap, work’s been crazy since our wedding last month.” “I know you work hard, babe. Let’s keep going until we can retire early together. It’s a blessing how I found someone with identical life-goals.” Joanne nodded meekly at Josh while sipping her lukewarm instant coffee. It tasted like steeped cigarette but she really didn’t want to respond. “So, Rocky Point Park, right? Sorry babe I can’t go– got a meeting.” “No worries. Yep, my go-to place since high school.” As Joanne pulled out of their West-End townhouse, Josh waved his hand and blew a kiss. She looked at her husband, their practically rent-free abode thanks…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition

    Viaticum

    The car was not good in the hills. It popped! and sputtered as it wrestled its way along the rough terrain of the narrow, winding roads cut from the Spanish countryside. As it neared the summit, it pulled off to the roadside where it was quiet but for the steam coming off the hood. The midday sun bathed the dry and patchy sloping hills of the valley. Whitewashed outcrops dotted the landscape, and above in the sky floated a few clouds, but not many. The man went around to open the hood while the woman walked to the cliff side and overlooked the valley. Across the valley was a small…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition

    Champagne

    Champagne was awful. There was no other way to describe the unpleasant taste on Finley’s tongue. Maybe she wasn’t educated enough on the finer things in life or elegance, but it didn’t change the way the sparkles assaulted her taste buds. And yet, she braved another sip of the foul liquid because it was the obligatory New Year’s Eve drink. The party was in full swing, well, at least Erin thought five people constituted a party. There were only a few more hours until midnight. Finley wasn’t sure all her mates were going to make it that far. Trashy 2000s pop music filled her ears as she made her way…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition

    The 1

    A slice of cake flew across the room. It was absolute chaos. This was supposed to be a simple rehearsal dinner for Kate and Ryan’s wedding, and it only took one comment about Kate’s short, off-white dress from Ryan’s mom to prompt an argument from Kate’s mom, which then became a full-blown war. Someone pulled someone’s hair, someone tripped someone else, and that’s when the first cookie was chucked across the room like a frisbee, hitting the maid of honour. Kate’s anxiety engulfed her, leaving her a mess in the corner of the room where Ryan had left her to separate the two parties. Kate’s body was tense and felt…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition

    Big Brother Bends the Universe

             Christmas is generally a joyous, festive time, if somewhat stressful and chaotic. But for those of us who lost loved ones this year, or were separated from family due to Covid-19, or have traumatic holiday memories or negative family relationships or for a million other reasons, the holidays can be a very challenging time.          I’ve had my fair share of terrible Christmases, but this was simultaneously the worst, and strangely, the best, in my 22 years of life so far (given the circumstances).          A bit of backstory: I’m the youngest sibling in a very large, branching, complicated family. I grew up with seven siblings, but for the…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition

    The Funeral of a Friend

    It was an odd thing to say at the beginning of an eulogy. I knew that the next time I saw her, it was going to be at her funeral. How do I explain that she told me that herself? The last time I saw her, we sat side by side on the bench outside of a coffee shop on the university campus. Spring was just about to end, but the last of the winds passing through the city would bite at any bared skin. Our elbows were separated by my hoodie and her black hand-knit sweater. The days were getting longer, but the sun was, nevertheless, setting behind us.…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition,  Blog

    The Sky, Today

    On bad days, William wore pink socks. Now there wasn’t particularly anything wrong with that morning, except when he had opened his eyes the sky had been all kinds of red, clouds of spun sugar and salmon guts. If he could reach out and grab some he was certain it would become a sticky mass between his hands, clumpy, some mucilaginous substance. Half-dry molasses. It wasn’t even that early either—7:30 on a frosty February morning. He didn’t usually sleep in this late and even still the sun was painting the sky psychedelic. The sky was not supposed to be that colour. So, before breakfast, he put on pink socks. He’d…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition

    Blue Eyes

    Once upon a time there lived a girl who loved a prince. Princes, as she well knew, marry princesses. But she fell in love regardless and adored him with the stubbornness and mystery of a first love. Whenever he rode hunting in the forest, her eyes followed boldly as his figure flashed past her window. Snow fell, flowers blossomed, and they both grew older. The King and Queen decided it was time for the prince to fall in love – or at any rate to marry – so they could retire and relax and do more important things at night than stare at the ceiling of their six-poster bed, thinking…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition

    In Fair Verona

    I find myself in the same interrogation room I had been before. Hands cuffed, in an orange jumpsuit, waiting for my one and only visitor. I recite to myself what has now become a comfort poem by Bob Kaufman, Someone whom I am is no one. / Something I have done is nothing. / Someplace I have been is nowhere. / I am not me. Enter Carlos Williams. He’s become older since the last time I saw him. He takes the seat across of me, taking his time, making me wait. He motions for the guard to go, a gesture I have seen him perform a dozen times before and…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition

    Serendipity

    when the world has gone crazy and the waltz playing in your head  is too fast  take my hand and lets  dance sway with  me like the roses  in the garden touch my shoulder and smile like i am the warmth and comfort the umbrella that will shield you  from the storm i feel your face because something tells me that everything will be alright if i just kiss you ___ This poem by A. February is posted in submission for the ESA’s 2022 Short Story Competition.

  • 2022 Short Story Competition,  Blog

    i am pretty and i do not long for your approval

    in front of the fruits there stands a girl of sixteen, maybe less. she’s in a pretty blue dress and shiny black boots and she feels like the loveliest thing in the world. powder and ruffles curled, soft sky, buttons shy on pale skin, hair of velvet cream and a pin brooch from grandmother’s glass jewelry bin. sleeves of dream’s crêpe, high collar above champagne silver locket, hung with frail chain. she wonders, standing in the supermarket city, if mother will let her borrow rose blossom blush again. she thinks perhaps she likes this feeling of looking pretty. – but she does not like how they stare, eyes of oil…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition

    A Balcony in Paris

    The postcard was half a decade old and smelled of pomegranates. – A breathing scene, with every tilt and turn, pulsed in tandem with the curtains. – You could tip your head back to the ceiling of the sky. You could spell forgiveness in a dozen make-believe languages. – The mirror is adorned with thumbprints and they hold the paper edges for you, like a solemn kind of promise. – You said, “The neighbours are made of linen and charcoal,” and they laughed as if life was just a miniature in the absurd. – In the streets, the neighbours sing, “Salut,” while they are looking through the looking glass, looking…

  • Announcements

    Town Hall

    Do you have a question about being a student in the Department of English Language & Literatures? Whether you’re an honours, major, minor, or prospective student, come to the virtual Undergraduate Town Hall on January 28th at 4 pm, co-hosted by the ESA and the Department of EL&L. Faculty members and UBC staff from Student Wellness and Arts Academic Advising will be present to answer your questions. This event aims to help students navigate the new school term in times of uncertainty. Please consider filling out the survey below by January 21st. It should take no longer than 5-7 minutes and there is a chance to win a gift card to…

  • Announcements

    Applications for the ESA Annual Colloquium 2022

    EDIT: Both deadlines have been pushed back to January 30 2022 at 11:59 PM! The English Students’ Association is now calling for submissions to our seventh annual conference, the Colloquium! The conference features presentations from English undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members, and will be held on March 11, 2022, with more details to be announced closer to the date. Our paper submission deadline is currently Sunday, January 23rd, 2022 at 11:59 pm. If you don’t have a paper to submit but still want to get involved, you can also apply to be an editor! The deadline for editor applications is Thursday, January 20th, 2022 at 11:59 pm. Please note…

  • Blog

    “There can never come much happiness to me from loving … I wish I could make myself a world outside it, as men do”: Sympathy and Femininity in George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss

    “You have known Maggie a long while, and need to be told, not her characteristics, but her history … For the tragedy of our lives is not created entirely from within.” (Eliot 409) George Eliot, one of the biggest names in Victorian literature, was known for her realistic storytelling and her continuous goal to write literature with psychological insight and empathetic understanding. The Mill on the Floss, one of Eliot’s classic works, is the chronicling of the complete life of Maggie Tulliver as she progresses through a rebellious childhood, a painful middle period, and into the culmination of her adulthood through a difficult choice she must make between family and…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition,  Announcements

    Short Story Competition

    UPDATE: Submissions are now closed! Thank you to all participants. Calling all writers! Do you want to share your creative writing with UBC’s English community? Now is your chance! The ESA is hosting a short story competition where all UBC students can submit their creative work to be posted on the blog. The ESA’s members will then vote on their favourite submission to select a winner and two runner-ups. Prizes will be rewarded to all top three participants, with first-place featuring an opportunity to have their work included in the English department’s alumni newsletter. The prizes will be revealed in mid-January. This is an excellent opportunity to get your name…

  • Blog

    “The old way of love seemed a dreadful bondage”: Homoromanticism and Identity in D.H Lawrence’s Women in Love

    “‘You can’t have two kinds of love. Why should you!’ ‘It seems as if I can’t,’ he said. ‘Yet I wanted it.’” (Lawrence 481) D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love tells the story of love and tragedy between two women struggling with their own circumstantial love affairs. However, separate from the changing values of modernist heterosexual romance, Lawrence’s classic novel, lauded for its portrayal of modernist attitudes as one of the best works of literature in the 20th century, explores a complicated homosexual love affair between Birkin and Gerald. The two male leads are contrasted against one another and in intimate duality with each other, breaching an ascension beyond the…

  • Blog

    Gender Formation and Queer Love in Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 20”

    The young man, the subject of Shakespeare’s first 126 sonnets, is an ambiguous presence. Despite being written about extensively, he is never described in full. His gender, interestingly, is neither easily identifiable nor stable. In sonnet 20, the young man’s gender is confusingly put into focus and blurred. Either as a means of correcting Nature’s queer feelings or as a mistake, the young man ends up with a penis. By hypercorrecting—I adopt this linguistics term to mean mistakenly correcting something to avoid the nonstandard—her queer love, Nature ultimately perpetuates it and reveals the insignificance of gender as it relates to love.          The young man is immediately a gender-bending force.…

  • Blog

    Fire – A Current Review of a 16th Century Painting

    Image: Fire – Giuseppe Arcimboldo The Milanese painter, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, was famous for his collections of outlandish portraits, often assembled not with human parts but with objects from the world of still-life, such as fruit and household items. Fire is one of a series of four separate oil-on-wood portraits that are made to represent the Four Elements. The painting embodies Arcimboldo’s unique taste for “grotesquerie” in which the head and upper-chest areas of human subjects, sometimes even royalty, were constructed with inanimate objects of varied value, metals and organic materials that formed bizarrely-diverse representations of a single thematic element. Four years before the completion of Fire, Arcimboldo was commissioned as…

  • Blog

    On Kristen Renzy’s 2015 article “Dough Girls and Biscuit Boys The Queer Potential of the Countercommunal Grotesque Body within Modernist Literature”; and How I Envision Much Post-Pandemic Literature on the Human Body.

    Let’s start by admitting that, in recent times, we consciously veer away from other bodies in public, that we are in fear of a lot, if not everything, that comes out of mouths, and that when we touch things with our hands, it is as if we have rubbed the lining of our bowels and then smeared it all over the doorknob. Oddly enough, this deep disgust for the “grossness” of the human body is, in fact, a source of great comedy, crude and impertinent comedy, which pervades various works of modernist literature. To become acquainted with some of the central themes of grotesquerie in literature, I recommend this Kristen…

  • Blog

    Birdsong in the Air, Lilies on the Stream: On Keeping Time and Learning from the Past in Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market

    In Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market, the goblins call out to young maidens “morning and evening”, offering tantalizing descriptions of fruit “sweet to tongue and sound to eye” (Rossetti 1, 30). They promise berries, peaches, pomegranates, figs; a variety of fruit, “all ripe together/In summer weather” (Rossetti 15-16). But what they refrain from telling their victims is that the sweetness of their goods comes with a bitter aftertaste. The eternal summer—the promise of satiation—is nothing but “sugar-baited words” (Rossetti 234). The price that must be paid for this temporary feeling of satisfaction is a destructive and perpetual hunger that deadens the senses to everything but the desire for more fruit. Morns…

  • Announcements,  Blog

    Come Write for the ESA’s Blog!

    Have you ever wanted to talk about a book, but your friends have never heard of it? Or maybe, you watched a critically underrated film that boggled your mind so much that you pulled an all-nighter to write an essay. Whatever your reason may be, chances are that as an English student, you do a lot of writing. So, why not share it with the world? First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Atticus- yes, like the lawyer from To Kill a Mockingbird. I originally started off at UBC with plans to be a physics major, but after falling in love with English literature through the masterpiece of…

  • Blog

    The Flower That Blooms in Adversity: On the Value of Gentleness and Loving-kindness in Jane Austen’s Persuasion

    At first glance, the quiet and reserved protagonist of Jane Austen’s Persuasion seems to fade into the background of her own story. Even the narrator, “taking her cue from the dysfunctional family”, begins Persuasion by shining the spotlight on the “self-centered Elliots”, rather than on her main character (Judge 42). However, as her protagonist prefers to linger behind the curtains in places where the Lizzie Bennets and Emma Woodhouses of the world would command the stage, Austen’s trajectory from such an introduction must then be to “bring Anne out of the shadows” in her own way (Judge 42). Anne Elliot’s personality, circumstances, and abilities do not make direct confrontations or…

  • Blog

    Why I Respect Fanfiction

    Image: “A Rainbow of Books” by Dawn Endico on Creative Commons. License CC BY-SA 2.0 The criticism against fanfiction is most often centered on the rhetoric of it being poorly written, unoriginal, and too sexual in nature. However, this take fails to consider that fanfiction allows a writer to share their creative works without having to navigate through the publishing industry, a place filled with countless barriers against aspiring authors, especially minorities. As for the quality of fanfiction, I argue that there is value in having a genre that constantly puts out work by a variety of authors at different points of their writing journey. A more diverse group of…

  • Blog

    His Place in the Sky: Family and Loss in David Chariandy’s Brother

    “Toronto” by VV Nincic on Creative Commons What does it mean to grieve? That is the central question which David Chariandy’s 2018 novel, Brother, addresses. Living in post-pandemic 2021 can be so chaotic and fast-paced that the slow, careful nuances of everyday life are simply forgotten. Regardless, there is a certain something that sings between the lines of this careful, masterfully plotted book; something, that, during the free-spinning, reckless course of 2020-2021, has brought me back to the tale of Michael and Francis once more. “… [H]e, my brother, understood the old music, that heritage of love, because he felt it himself. He loved his family, and also his friends. He loved a young…

  • Blog

    Algorithms in Daily Life

    Language and stories are integral to our understanding of the world around us. However, the ways we share stories have expanded significantly over time. Fewer and fewer dedicated readers regularly turn to print copies of books, instead opting for a more convenient option, such as online audiobook and podcast  services.  These new possibilities are not only limited to traditional fiction and non-fiction books. With the emergence of new streaming platforms for music, movies, live video, algorithms now offer the same convenience and wide array of options. Platforms such as these make household chores infinitely more interesting and engaging. Moreover, listeners need not feel overwhelmed by the substantial database of choices…

  • Announcements

    ESA Annual Colloquium 2021

    The English Students’ Association is now calling for submissions to our seventh annual conference, the Colloquium! The conference features presentations from English undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty members, and will be held virtually on Thursday, March 11, 2021. Our submission deadline is currently Sunday, January 3rd, 2021 at 11:59 pmIf you don’t have a paper to submit but still want to get involved, you can also apply to be an editor! Please visit our website for criteria and the application form; the deadline for editor applications is Sunday, January 17th, 2021 at 11:59 pm. Please note that Presenter and Editor deadlines are different. Click here for Application for Editors…

  • Blog

    The End of the Road: Escaping through Privilege in My Own Private Idaho

    “I’ve been tasting roads all my life. This road will never end. It probably goes all around the world.”-Mike Waters  Mike Waters is a tragic character. Played by the late River Phoenix, he’s a young gay sex worker whose life is perceived as a fun escape to his best friend, Scott Favor. Mike’s situation was never a choice. His older brother is also his father, he’s poor, never had a “normal family,” struggles with narcolepsy, and is homeless (My Own Private Idaho). Though he insists he doesn’t feel sorry for himself, what makes Mike tragic is his yearning for stability, something he never obtains in the film. Scott sees the…

  • Blog

    “Overthinking: Am I Doing Enough? Or, Too Much?”

    We all have had a lot to think about in 2020.  We are all juggling classes, work, extra-curricular activities, clubs, mental and physical health, and human connection while staying extremely cautious about our outings since the pandemic outbreak. The combination of all these stresses could cause us to feel overwhelmed—I know I felt that.  In previous posts, I discussed a few ways to cope with stress in “Writing Might Save Your Life” and “Musical Escapism: The (Cheap) Stress Relief You Need.” If these options aren’t your forte, that’s okay. I have another surprising option to try. To preface, the questions that I kept asking myself for the past couple of…

    Comments Off on “Overthinking: Am I Doing Enough? Or, Too Much?”
  • Blog

    That Distant Black Flag: The Intricacies of Familial Love in Chang-rae Lee’s A Gesture Life

    “Japan” by YoTuT on Creative Commons “Let me simply bear my flesh, and blood, and bones. I will fly a flag.”(Lee 356) Chang-rae Lee’s novel, A Gesture Life, is a slow, emotional exploration of the complications that arise in the diasporic communities of the globalized last century. Chang’s quiet narrative hints at the darker complications of national loyalty and questionable morality, as readers are simultaneously led through the recollections of World War II and the peaceful everyday life of Franklin Hata, a Japanese-American immigrant who served as a medic in the Japanese army.  From the beginning, Franklin, or Doc Hata as the sleepy town of Bedley Run calls him, is…

  • Blog

    Becoming a Global Citizen

    Throughout my childhood I was never a person who liked to take risks, preferring to stay within my comfort zone. Two years ago I had never left the country without my parents. However, despite the unfamiliarity, I decided to embark upon a journey to a foreign place where I did not speak the language and knew almost nothing of the culture. I was apprehensive about visiting a strange place, but decided to open myself up to the experience of visiting a new country.  During my school trip to Cuba I visited local schools, where our class shared musical performances and donated school supplies. At one of the schools we had…

  • Blog

    Spring Will Come Again: Story, Song, and Sorrow in Anaïs Mitchell’s Hadestown

    “Orpheus with his lute made trees    And the mountain tops that freeze      Bow themselves when he did sing:    To his music plants and flowers    Ever sprung; as sun and showers    There had made a lasting spring.    Every thing that heard him play,    Even the billows of the sea,      Hung their heads and then lay by.    In sweet music is such art,    Killing care and grief of heart      Fall asleep, or hearing, die.” —William Shakespeare, Orpheus “On the road to Hell there was a railroad line/And a poor boy workin’ on a song/His mama was a friend…

  • Blog

    A Bombastic Feminist Blockbuster: Birds of Prey

    [Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Warner Bros.] Superhero films —and blockbusters in general— are overwhelmed with stories about (mostly white) men. This doesn’t mean women are never in them; every so often they’re even allowed to star. However, modern outings of feminist blockbusters (with a few exceptions) have been tepid at best, and hollow “girl-boss” vehicles at worst. Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) stands out among its peers in its unabashed, glitter-covered spectacle and infectious energy. It’s a movie that unselfconsciously embraces womanhood and is deeply invested in telling kick-ass stories about that. Cathy Yan (dir.) and screenwriter Christina Hodson infused sincerity and spunk…

  • Blog

    The Restorative Powers of Interactive Storytelling

    Source: Photo by: Edwin Hooper on Unsplash.  In these strange times, when social interaction outside of our small social bubble is limited to virtual and socially-distanced spaces, creators of media are driven to experiment with more creative approaches. At the beginning of the pandemic, as we were sequestered inside our individual dwellings, a trend of interactive, choose-your-own-adventure media and storytelling technology skyrocketed. This new form of escapism opened a whole new world of possibilities during a time when many of us felt as though our worlds were rapidly becoming smaller and smaller.  This new emergence, or in some cases re-emergence, of interactive stories has been particularly beneficial for teenagers during…

  • Blog

    More Than Fairy Tales: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Brilliance of Children’s Literature

    C.S. Lewis, the author of the well-loved Chronicles of Narnia, once said that “a children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” There are books that we fall in love with during childhood, which, upon returning to, seem almost lifeless compared to the shining stories from our memories. Discovering that a book you once loved does not hold the same lustre it did for you as a child feels like shedding another layer of yourself as you grow further and further away from the person you used to be. Those books return to their shelves, and are forgotten in the passage…

  • Blog

    “It’s Not Just a Dream, it Could be Our Reality”

    The little things make a difference in the bigger picture. Global warming and climate change are not new concerns, but why do some of us continue to treat it as if they are topics not worth being proactive about? In Chris Van Allsburg’s Just A Dream (1990), Van Allsburg places the readers in the position of the protagonist, Walter, who does not grasp the problem about climate change. Instead of continuously telling Walter he needs to be a responsible individual on this planet, Van Allsburg shows Walter the devastating and unappealing outcomes of humans neglecting to care for the environment.  Van Allsburg addresses our doubts and the dominant stigma about climate change…

  • Blog

    5 Books to Rejuvenate Your Reading List for the Springtime

    A few terms synonymous with spring would include sunshine, bloom, allergy season, and here in Vancouver: cherry blossoms. Along with spring also comes the dreaded (for some) task of spring cleaning. So get out those dusters and open the blinds. Perhaps you’ll stumble upon your bookcase as you power down the vacuum, either well loved or with a thin sheen of fine powder coating it. There are a few books you recognize, and others with their spines still uncracked. Maybe you, dear reader, are like this writer and have a list that extends for miles, detailing every novel you would read if you just had the time! Or perhaps you…

  • Blog

    6 TIPS TO BEAT YOUR WRITER’S BLOCK!

    We are approaching that time of the term when we scramble to find the perfect words to use for our term papers. It could also be the moment when you’re struggling to find a way to silence the cursor on your screen that continuously taunts you every time it pulses on the blank page.   Fret not! I have gathered a few sweet time-saving tips that will help you push past your writer’s block! 1. Create an Outline If you’re feeling lost but you have a bunch of ideas in your mind, write them down first! Taking all the information out of your mind and onto a page makes the ideas feel tangible. You…

  • Blog

    “Is this your buying China?”: Luxury consumerism and superficiality in William Wycherley’s The Country Wife

    Following increased maritime trade and a reliance on foreign goods, the commercial revolution that swept through England in the late sixteenth century resulted in an intensified desire for new and hitherto inaccessible luxury commodities. One such commodity, china porcelain, resulted in a “china fever” that continued well into the eighteenth century, introducing new notions of social refinement and, more importantly, social and economic superficiality. In the infamous “china scene” of William Wycherley’s The Country Wife (1675), Lady Fidget operates within the discourse of “woman as consumer” in order to forward her sexual agency, participating in the surface play that luxury commodities as ultimately empty signifiers afford. England’s commercial revolution not only saw…

  • Announcements

    ESA’S AGM: 2020 ELECTIONS UPDATE

    Elections will take place at our Annual General Meeting. Due to health concerns and to ensure everyone’s safety, we will hold our Annual General Meeting online. Details to be Announced. Looking for a fun opportunity to get involved with the English undergraduate community while developing leadership skills? We are officially seeking executives for next year’s ESA team. This is a great way to develop new skills, meet new people, and have an influence on campus. The executive team collaborates to plan everything from ice cream cake socials to The Colloquium, supports initiatives like The Garden Statuary, and connects with students, other clubs, and the department. New ideas are more than welcome, and this…

  • Blog

    Writing Might Save Your Life

    Why do we watch movies, listen to audiobooks, and write poetry, songs, and stories?! What makes storytelling compelling to all of us regardless of our knowledge, social classes, and our wide variety of interests? In Jen Sincero’s book, You Are A Badass (2013), she shares personal anecdotes reflecting on her journey to finding her “true self” or “higher self” by changing her perspectives of the world we live in (35). Sincero addresses internal battles we may all have with ourselves about feeling overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated, and feeling “not good enough.” Providing many brief and insightful “how-to” lists to tackle each one of the obstacles, the key point that Sincero continuously emphasizes—and does so…

  • Blog

    Analyzing the Fahrenheit 451 Films by Truffaut and Bahrani

    Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury is one of my favourite books for a multitude of reasons, such as Bradbury’s use of poetic language and its’ timeless, universal themes. Although Fahrenheit 451 was originally published in 1953, over 60 years ago, many themes are still relevant today; specifically censorship, and the loss of culture through the loss of information distribution and consumption. Bradbury emphasizes the importance of books to aid in the preservation of cultures and knowledge. In my essay, I will respectively explore the 1966 film directed by Truffaut and the 2018 film adaptation directed by Bahrani, analyzing how both films use setting and tone to convey the novel and the writer’s message.…

  • Blog

    “Why Does Everyone Like Joe Goldberg?” – Strangership and Privilege in Netflix’s You

    The popularity of the Netflix thriller You is garnering increasing media attention from critics, theorists, and fans alike after the second season was released at the beginning of January 2020. Falling under fire for the obsessive attention that the psychopathic protagonist, Joe Goldberg, has gotten from young fans, the depictions of stalking, violence, and murder from the narrative perspective of the perpetrator himself is an intriguing – if not a risky – narrative angle. Reactionary criticisms aside, I argue that the series proffers a wealth of subversive discourse critiquing the presentation and acceptance of violent behaviour by privileged folks in a platform easily accessible to a wide-ranging, diverse audience. The main question asked…

  • Blog

    Creating a Story Without Words: Parallels in Story and Music-making

    Music and writing have a lot in common. You may have even heard stories themselves be described in terms of music- like beats of action, the rhythm of words, and the melody, or a voice, of an author. Throughout the years, these two disciplines have helped each other to both become powerful outlets of creativity and expression. When polyphony, or music with more than one independent voice, became common, there was also a rising interest in composing music with a story plot. Many techniques were developed, particularly in the Romantic Era, where extramusical art forms such as books and plays were used to help musicians find an emotional truth in…

  • Blog

    “Such dread as only children can feel”: Childhood trauma in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre

    “For me,” Jane begins, following the incident in the red room, “the watches of that long night passed in ghastly wakefulness; ear, eye, and mind alike strained by dread: such dread as children only can feel” (Brontë 20). Saturated as Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is with unnerving or unsettling sensations, what is fascinating is how these sensations and images work in conjunction to articulate trauma—particularly trauma as it is experienced by a child. There is a striking poignancy to Jane’s specification that the dread she feels in this moment is “dread as children only can feel” (emphasis mine). A closer reading of red room incident reveals that the text corresponds to two…

  • Blog

    The Power of Texts and Images in My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade

    NB: The metaphors are shown in capital letters as indicated by Barbara Dancygier and Eve Sweetser’s Figurative Language (2014) text. For every song a musical artist publishes, the artist creates an album cover art to represent the theme and messages conveyed in the music. In The Black Parade (2006) album, written and sung by the American rock band My Chemical Romance, the artwork produced for the vinyl copy of the album captures and communicates the artist’s message through multiple inputs blended together. The message the album is addressing is the mental health obstacles that the lead singer of the band, Gerard Way, was combatting when they were writing the album. Gerard’s ‘battle’ is represented through the…

  • Blog

    Be Still: Slowing Down to Savour Life

    “When we lose our sense of wonder we become dissatisfied with who we are,” Madeleine L’Engle says in her book on creation and human identity (Madeleine 51). When I came back to her words this month, I connected just as strongly to them as I had the first time I read them. Madeleine L’Engle is right, on many levels. Losing our sense of wonder not only prevents us from seeing and appreciating the blessings in our lives, it also makes us disillusioned with reality, and with ourselves. Our world goes at such a fast pace that we sometimes find it difficult to catch our breath, much less give ourselves time…

  • Blog

    The Polar Express: The Train You Need to Ride Every Year

    Many of Chris Van Allsburg’s books have been projected into a motion picture film such as Zathura (2005) and Jumanji (1995). Van Allsburg’s most memorable book to film project is The Polar Express(1985) which has gained the status of being a Christmas film played each year like Frosty the Snowman (1969) and Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964). But why?   The Polar Express (1985) is structured for young children to understand the gist of the plotline easily in addition to the simple, yet magical illustrations Van Allsburg creates himself. The story appeals to children with elements of magic and wonder and to adults as a form of nostalgia reminding every adult of their imaginative days as a child. The…

  • Blog

    “You, Who Have Devastated the Souls of the Living”: Heroes, Hubris, and the Victorian Gothic in Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

    Although Christmas time and ghost stories seem to us strange bedfellows, the two were commonly found lying together in the nineteenth century. Ghouls and ghosts, seances and mystics, changelings and revenants were all immensely popular among the Victorians – and their presence was felt year-round in high society. Christmas was especially fraught with the souls of the dead, as the Victorians were well-known for spending their Christmas Eves telling spooky stories around the fire amidst the gifts, candles, and cakes. Considering the majority of our current western Christmas traditions were founded in the Victorian era, it stands to argue that contemporary tales merging the uncanny with the holly-jolly would be second-nature to us,…

  • Blog

    Transgressive social mobility in Charles Perrault’s “Little Red Riding Hood”

    “Once upon a time, deep in the heart of the country,” begins Charles Perrault, “there lived a pretty little girl whose mother adored her, and her grandmother adored her even more. This good woman made her a red hood like the ones that fine ladies wear when they go riding. The hood suited the child so much that soon everybody was calling her Little Red Riding Hood” (33). Since its inception in Perrault’s “Le Petit Chaperon Rouge” (1697) and its rapid proliferation by the likes of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm with their adaptation “Rotkäppchen” (1812/15) or James N Barker’s “Little Red Riding Hood” (1827), the iconographic legacy of the eponymous…

  • Blog

    LITERATURE TO LIFE: WE EAT TOO MANY PAPER PLATES

    Thinking beyond ourselves has become a dominant theme in my Canadian Environmental writing course that influences my decisions on a day-to-day basis. It is annie ross’ collection of poems from Pots and Other Living Beings(2019) that inspires me to reflect on my consumption of food, clothing, and other materialistic items. I am not insisting to start living a minimalist lifestyle, but to become more mindful about buying another pair of shoes and thinking twice about purchasing another tube of mascara. With the holiday season coming up, almost everyone, including myself, will be in the gift-giving spirit. Before we fumble for our wallets, I want to discuss the significance of annie ross’…

  • Blog

    Literature to Life: Three Timeless Must-Know Gift-Giving Tips You Need

    From my previous post “Literature to Life: We Eat Too Many Paper Plates,” I analyzed annie ross’ Pots and Other Living Beings (2019) to continue ongoing discussions pertaining to recent climate strikes. With the upcoming Black Friday sale and holidays next month, I want to suggest a few alternatives for everyone to think about when planning their purchases. Since many of us are students and want to ensure we are making a valuable investment in the items we find for our friends and family members, I have a few tips to help you make valuable purchases that are friendly to the environment and your bank account! Note: I am using…

  • Blog

    A Tribute to Stephen King

    To say that Stephen King is a good writer would be an understatement. With nearly 100 books selling over 350 million copies and stories transformed into television series and movies that have left an indelible mark on our pop culture, Stephen King is a capital “G” Great writer. I paid a visit to one of the Vancouver Writer’s Festival events called, “A Tribute to Stephen King,” and found myself in a room filled with people all with the same question: How? How exactly can a single man accomplish all of this? And more importantly, what has Stephen King taught us from his stories? The night started with a healthy sprinkling…

  • Announcements

    Colloquium 2020: Call for Editors!

    Interested in gaining editing experience? Looking to take part in an enriching academic conference? The ESA is looking for editors to assist with the 2020 Colloquium! Editors will have a hand in selecting the pieces that will be presented at the conference, as well as work closely with those selected to refine their work. Some basic criteria: Student at UBC (all majors and years are welcome!) Exemplary communication and writing skills Interest in engaging with writers at UBC Open to providing and receiving constructive feedback Strong sense of time management Able to attend the Colloquium on February 28th Willingness to take initiative (e.g. punctual for meetings, full of ideas, ready…

  • Blog

    Society’s Biggest Joke: Put on a Happy Face

    Both heroes and anti-heroes share a common goal in life to find his or her form of happiness by conquering any problem he or she faces to achieve his or her goal. In Todd Phillips’ film, Joker (2019), the audience is challenged to perceive the protagonist Arthur Fleck, a party clown and failed comedian, as an example of an anti-hero. Arthur struggles to keep his job as a street advertiser who holds and flips signs on the sidewalk for local merchants while dressed as a clown. He works hard to keep his job and to maintain a positive mindset to afford to live in Gotham City with his mother, Penny Fleck. He…

  • Announcements,  Blog

    The 2020 Colloquium!

    The English Students’ Association is hosting our sixth annual academic conference, The Colloquium! This conference features presentations from English undergraduate students and faculty members. The Colloquium offers the opportunity to share your work and discuss ideas with other students and faculty members in the English Department. Please see below for more detailed information! Event Information Time: 4:00pm – 7:00pm Date: February 27th, 2020 Location: Dodson Room, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre RSVP: on Facebook! The event schedule, along with the presenters’ abstracts, will be released closer to the event date. Presenters and Abstracts Dr. Lise Gaston Reading Carriages in the Eighteenth-Century Novel Using Frances Burney’s 1778 novel Evelina as a case study,…

  • Blog

    “A salvatory of green mummy”: John Webster and Corpse Medicine

    Jacobean dramatist John Webster approached the taboo and the questionable with inexhaustible determination, plunging the contemporary reader into those dark, uncomfortable spaces we prefer to skirt around, never lingering for too long for fear of what we might uncover. For Webster, a preoccupation with the gruesome side of mortality manifests particularly strongly in his references to the practice of mummy, or corpse medicine (tinctures made from dead human flesh and bones), in The White Devil and The Duchess of Malfi. Contrary to such a perceivably unthinkable medical practice being attributed to British “medieval” history, corpse medicine continued to be practiced well into the early modern period, where it reached its height of popularity…

  • 2022 Short Story Competition

    Voting is now open!

    Attention all ESA members, All short fiction submissions have been posted to the website. Now it is your time to vote on your favourite work! Please follow the link sent to you by email to make your vote so we can select our winners. If you did not receive an email, please contact either blog@ubcenglish.com or english.ubc@gmail.com so we can send it over again. Voting will conclude of February 14, 2022. Winners will be contacted on February 16 with information on how to collect their prizes shortly after. If you are a participant who notices an error in their post, then please contact Atticus at blog@ubcenglish.com.