Studying Memes

Several new research projects focused on memes draw on Spreadable Media from a range of different angles:

  • In their May 2014 New Media & Society piece, “Memes as Genre: A Structurational Analysis of the Memescape,” Bradley E. Wiggins and Bret G. Bowers draw on the white paper that was part of the Spreadable Media project—challenging the white paper’s definition of the term “meme” in purely biological terms and reappropriating the phrase “spreadable media” to refer to original content that is circulating by audiences, as opposed mimetic content, which modifies the content from the original iteration.
  • Limor Shifman of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Department of Communication and Journalism draws on the original whitepaper from the Spreadable Media project in “Anatomy of a YouTube Meme” for New Media & Society in 2012, using the whitepaper’s argument for the audience’s agency in circulation—calling for retaining the language of “viral” and “meme” but arguing for giving them more nuance and definition.
  • Ryan Milner’s 2012 University of Kansas Communication Studies dissertation, The World Made Meme: Discourse and Identity in Participatory Media, draws on Spreadable Media’s critique of the biological metaphors “meme” and “viral” to describe how cultural texts circulate, distinguishing between the two terms and arguing for retaining the term “meme,” especially in how it has been redefined over time.
  • In his 2012 honors thesis for the University of Pittsburgh, entitled “LOLs, Lulz, and ROFL: The Culture, Fun, and Serious Business of Internet Memes,” Noah David Levinson includes some consideration of Spreadable Media’s characterization of spreadability.