From Hawthorne To Facebook: How One Social Media Scholar Got Schooled

The sign that got one million likes. (Courtesy of the Cordell Family)

The sign that got one million likes. (Courtesy of the Cordell Family)

Never underestimate the power of Facebook.

That’s what Ryan Cordell found out when his five children posted a picture holding this sign “Hi World! We want a puppy! Our dad said we could get one if we get 1 million likes. So like this!” Then off to the side, “He doesn’t think we can do it.”

Well the Cordell kids quickly blew past their goal.

They hit one million likes in seven hours.

But the twist in the story is this: Ryan Cordell is an English professor at Northeastern University and a scholar of the digital humanities. His speciality? Understanding what went viral in the 19th century.

And he didn’t see this coming?


Ryan Cordell, assistant professor of English, Northeastern University


Check out an example of 19th century virality, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Celestial Railroad



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