Websites on Memetic Rhetoric

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[edit] The Rhetoric of Memes

[edit] Purpose

The Rhetoric of Memes site has at least one of eighteen image-macro memes that many (if not all) digital users have encountered. Clicking on each image reveals a thorough analysis of these popular memes, or thread of memes, using what Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin defines as heteroglossia and carnivalesque, as well as the connection Michele Zappavigna makes between humor and ambient affiliation. The interplay between multiple discourses and the notions of hierarchical rank dictate if the message behind a meme appeals to an individual.

[edit] Application

The Most Interesting Man in the World series of memes portrays Bakhtinian aspects of carnivalesque and heteroglossia. The Dos Equis man, who is the focus of this Internet meme, portrays an authoritative nature. This persona is translated via the meme’s text. Thus, the meme withholds Bakhtin’s idea of heteroglossia, in that the man acts as an authoritative figure with a powerful message. In addition, since the meme does not necessarily mean to insult any particular person or people, it also passes Bakhtin’s carnivalesque characteristic. Moreover, Bakhtin would say that heteroglossia and the meme’s carnivalesque conditions give it meaning. These two characteristics are imperative in understanding the meme’s social and literal messages.

The Bad Luck Brian meme is known for having very unfortunate circumstances happen to Brian, the kid whose image provides the background for the meme. The carnivalesque aspect of this meme is that what happens to Brian is not what you expect when you read the first part of his memes. The heteroglossic aspect is that people read this meme as funny, although when most of the things that were written on Bad Luck Brian memes happen to other people, they would not be perceived the same way. “Bad Luck Brian” represents the negative social perception of children that have certain stereotypes associated with them like braces, red hair, and sweater vests, and these stigmas cause Brian to be looked down upon and made fun of by society.

When clicking on this website, a viewer will see examples similar to those explained above and allow more in-depth reading.

[edit] U of Memes 201

[edit] Purpose

The UofMemes201 site contains thirteen original image-macro memes. Unlike the Rhetoric of Memes page where the students analyzed memes, students in the UofMemes201 site applied Zappavigna and Bakhtin’s theories to their own meme creations. These memes are completely original--composed of original images and discourses--and the students chose communities they are involved in .

[edit] Application

The Undeclared College Major series uses the concept of “carnivalesque” in positive and negative ways. The purpose of the carnivalesque is, as Bakhtin notes, to eliminate authoritative figures in order to promote equality. The student author, Chloe Hardin, clearly depicts the latter by using the image of a child or an older man to joke about college students’ worries in declaring a major. However, the other image-macro meme contradicts Bakhtin’s ideas of the carnivalesque since its humor arises from promoting authoritative differences rather than eliminating them. The image of the two men, side by side, shows what our society would portray as an “unattractive”, “dorky” man, who got nowhere with his english major, and instead works at a chik-fil-a. Contrastingly, the image of the undeclared man shows a man with more desirable looks, and as a “bonus” is a billionaire.

The Phi Rho Penguin is an exemplary series that demonstrates how certain ideas make sense to certain group members because of their ambient affiliation, in which these ideas are either difficult to generalize to an entire population or not accepted by a distinct community who does not share the same ideas. Therefore, the memes lose their relatability. This series is not just specific to female students integrated in greek life, but it is particularly specific to women in a sorority group obtaining their college degrees in engineering and engineering technology. Beginning with the image itself, it is 100% specific to this sorority group, and the discourse involved is also specific to this community. Therefore, even though this meme series would be funny to the women in this sorority sharing this ambient affiliation, it is limited since Bakhtin’s theory of multiple discourses and suspension of rank do not apply to all.

[edit] WolverMemes

[edit] Purpose

Wolvermemes houses the final projects of the Winter 2016, Section 001 class of Writing 201: The Rhetoric of Memes, at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Inside this website, you will find personal reflections from each of the students in the course, embellished with memes that each student felt would emphasize their story. Our definition of memes has been expanded beyond what most are used to seeing on social media.

[edit] Application

"Video Meme," for example, expands the definition of internet meme bringing it back to Dawkins' original concept of "viral sensations." "Working on an Ambulance" constructs a personal essay about the activity of an EMT official, and it uses memes to convey emotions about that activity. "My Life En Pointe" deals with the difficulties of physical training, and it jokingly compares dancing to other sports. All these personal essays show how memes can be constructed/applied to augment emotional delivery.

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