PAH 160D3 - Memes: The Art and Craft of Microstorytelling
Jonathan Jae-an Crisman
The idea of the "meme" was coined by Richard Dawkins in the 1970s to describe units of culture that replicated in a similar way to genetic material—things like catch phrases, clothing fashions, or slogans. The term has since come to primarily mean internet memes, the vast world of audiovisual and textual material that is copied and reinterpreted by internet users under the logics of participatory digital culture. Despite assumptions to the contrary, memes are one of the most dynamic, creative, and important kinds of culture today, and our class took on the task of thinking about these often hilarious and at times strikingly political pieces of culture. Due to stay-at-home orders, people around the world have been producing and sharing memes at a prolific pace, and our collective goal was to identify, organize, and analyze some of these memes, as well as contribute our own original memes to this global conversation. Several hundred memes, along with a handful of analytic essays, are organized into nine chapters of topical themes related to current events, one chapter that focuses on unpacking the histories of particular memes, and three appendices of additional assorted coronavirus memes, classic memes, and non-internet memes. i can haz meemburger?