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  • 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…

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    “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…

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    “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…

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    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…

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    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…

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    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…

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    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…

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    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…

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    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…

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    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…

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    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…

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    A Classic for Halloween: The Horror Behind Frankenstein’s Monster

    [Source: Frankenstein by twm1340 on Creative Commons] As Halloween approaches, decorations and displays of classic creatures of the occult such as vampires, werewolves, mummies, and zombies go up on storefronts and homes. Frankenstein is no stranger to it. His combination of green skin, bolts and stitches, staggering height, and strange black and white hair should paint an image of terror, but through consumerism, marketing, and the media Frankenstein has become less of a horrifying monster and more of a pop culture icon.  The original Frankenstein was a much more terrifying creature, who was more human-like than a brain dead zombie, as depicted in the 1931 film Frankenstein, directed by James…

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    Forgotten Voices: Death and Transformation in Lee Maracle’s Ravensong in Relation to Modern Epidemic

    Ravens on the trail” by Abhi Here on Creative Commons “Never again would wolf women serve men in quite the same way again.” (Maracle 2) Lee Maracle’s newly-revived novel, Ravensong, is a quiet but powerful recollection of the sociopolitical impact epidemic has on marginalized communities. Originally written by Maracle in three days, Ravensong was rejected by publishers, swamped out of print by the release of the high-fantasy works popular at the time, and forgotten by the general public for the better part of a decade. Despite its single-handed defeat by Harry Potter, Ravensong was brought back by dedicated fans who continued to push for its re-publication, feeling the necessity of…