4: Memes as a Digital Genre

I am writing my digital genre wiki on Internet memes. While sites like Wikipedia define Internet memes very broadly as images, hyperlinks, plain text, etc., I want to focus my discussion primarily to image/text-based memes, such as the one below, found on sites like iFunny. These memes, as well as memes more broadly, can be identified by their humorous nature and their unique ease of accessibility and distribution.

I was most interested to find that the term “meme” was coined in the 1970s, not recently. This term was used “as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena” (“Meme”). Because I have only ever heard the term used in conjunction with images such as the one above, I never realized that it had such a deep etymology.

Probably my biggest challenge in working on this assignment is finding information that isn’t too broad to put in the wiki. I would like to find specific facts and figures, but most of the information I have found so far relates to Internet memes very generally. My biggest triumph, though, is finding academic sources on memes that are perfect for some of the wiki’s categories. I was surprised to find so much academic research on my topic.

This assignment is particularly valuable to me in understanding the Forms of Writing classes that are required for my major. I’m currently taking Forms of Writing: Comics, where we are talking about how comics were formed and changed by their audiences who constantly shared the comics and were inspired to create new content. This really reminded me of how memes are constantly shared and changed based on their audience, only limited by the audience’s creativity.

In “Among the Audience,” Lunsford and Ede discussed the idea that the concept of audience is changing based on new texts and media. Memes exemplify this new audience: people make memes with an intended audience in mind, which is then shared virally with an actual audience, who is in constant participation with each other and the author through an extensive network of comments, reaction memes, and creating similar memes through “appropriation” (20). While old media also has intended and actual audiences, the constant conversation between meme creators and the meme’s “audience” is something unique to new media, perhaps due to the intense ability of rapid distribution that the Internet allows.


Word Count: 397


Works Cited:


Lunsford, Andrea A. and Lisa Ede. “’Among the Audience’: On Audience in an Age of New            Literacies.” 1-32. Web. 16 Feb. 2018.

“Meme.” Wikipedia, Wikipedia. Web. 16 Feb. 2018.