University of Alberta at Augustana Team

Learning Contract for the COPLAC Digital Humanities Project

With Michael Linley and Lisa Vaughan-Farrell

Dr. Janet Wesselius and Dr. Yvonne Franke

Mission Statement with Elaboration

This project’s objective is to explore the notion of strangeness both existing and not existing in two particular mediums of pop culture: the video game and the online communities they are a foundation for, as well as digital imagery found on online platforms such as Youtube, 4Chan, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Specifically, our main focus of interest will lie in analyzing the demarcation between the binary opposites of reality and fiction and how their coexistence presents itself, how the two rely on one another, and how the line between them can be fuzzy to the point where they are one in the same thing.

Ultimately, we will be contemplating what is considered fabrications and fantasy, lies and irrelevant information or fiction as opposed to accepted or appropriate facts and truth, history and reality. The stories that video games and imagery give us present to us also a picture of how people as a collective coexist with strangeness. We will look at who or what is it that decides what is strange and what is acceptable in the midst of a culture of knowing: the ways in which strangeness is either quelled or brought to the forefront.

Some topics for discussion will include the notion of “the glitch” in the video game, the reality vs. the truth presented in images, the inevitability of fiction existing within reality and vice versa. We will look at SOMA, a game where one makes a digital world where one can upload one’s consciousness into it and live there in the same way as we live in the physical world now. We will at the “Corrupted Blood Incident” that happened in World of Warcraft and how the community dealt with it, as well as The Dead Space Trilogy which often has you questioning what is and is not real, and the games Inside and Limbo which challenges notions of what is considered reality, truth, or normalcy, as opposed to definitions of fiction. As for digital imagery, we will be looking at photographs from Daguerre to the way photographs are portrayed online regarding Youtubers and digital art creators and the ways in which reality and fiction is portrayed. We will look at how these two genres of pop culture tackle – or refuse to tackle – these epistemological and ontological questions.

We will be operating a discussion based forum with weekly uploaded topics for discussion and debate. We will upload a discussion post every Friday. Our discussion posts will be approximately ½- 2 pages long, including videos, illustrations, photographs, as well as interviews with fellow students, faculty, and community members. These interviews will act as discussion members who contribute to the conversation. Through the uploaded interviews, we hope to create an online community able and willing to explore concepts and the ways in which a collective of people have silenced the asking and contemplation of such concepts and the questions they pose. Interviewees will be invited to participate on the blog site, and will be allowed to view and comment on other interviews.


Due to the interviews we will be conducting, recording equipment, video editing software, and other resources will be utilized. Online communities such as Imgur, Quora, DeviantArt, and possibly an MMOG will be brought into play as well. Art and film will be uploaded onto the website, and we will also utilize with the utmost respect, the knowledge, perceptions, and words of others.



• Research, development, and contemplation will begin

• Idea sketching and topics for discussion • Weekly meetings on Wednesdays and Fridays


• Prepare a list of potential interviewees by March 15

• Prepare interview questions by March 15

• Obtain consent from University for Interviews

• Start writing the forum discussion posts for each Friday

• Blog posts on Nature of digital imagery and portrayal on digital platforms

• Blog posts on Pewdiepie • Blog posts on Daguerre • Blog posts on HyperNormalization • Blog posts on Nature of video games • Blog posts on Limbo • Blog posts on Inside • Blog posts on Online Communities

• Finish blog posts by end of March

• Start conducting Interviews by March 20

• Weekly meetings on Wednesdays and Fridays


• Finish conducting interviews by first week of April

• Edit the interviews by second week of April

• Polish the website • Peer and Instructor feedback

• Final Presentation