ST: Aca-Memes

Image from, user "whatever"
Image from, user “whatever”

Internet memes share many of the same properties that Sirc describes in “Serial Composition.”  They are striking, bite-sized, and as (if not more) interested in aesthetic impact than intellectual persuasion.  As a further experiment in serial/minimal rhetoric, I’m asking you to play along.

Following Henry Jenkins, you’ll “repurpose” a reading from the course (or, if you’re feeling saucy, an academic reading from elsewhere) in the form of a bit of spreadable media.  There are two fundamental ingredients to this:

  1. A “cut” of your source material.  This can be a direct quote, a modified quote (as in the Discourse on the Otter), or perhaps as little as a keyword or phrase integrated into an existing “meme.”
  2. An image that has a striking, attention-getting effect.

Using Photoshop (or whatever software you prefer), orchestrate the two together into a single, clear, readable, evocative artifact.  The dynamic interplay between image and text is key, so be clear about choosing what text to include, and how to orient that text.  (In keeping with Internet tradition, I also ask that you use the standard font: Impact, boldfaced, preferably white with a dark outline.)

You may use an already existing meme or image macro (Grumpy Cat, Socially Awkward Penguin, Philosoraptor, etc.), but to earn maximum credit, you should design from scratch.


  • Start somewhere comfortable.  Just like your blogs force you to “come to terms” with your own content, so does this.  Begin by thinking of an idea that strikes and intrigues you, either from this semester’s readings or from your own.
  • Try to avoid working backwards.  There are crap-tons of memes out there, and it’ll be mighty tempting to grab the first you can find, pour in this new content, and walk away.  Start by thinking about impact, and make calculated choices from there.
  • Work your options. You may not find an ideal image to suit the textual “cut” you want, or vice versa.  The process is a recursive one.  Keep refining until you arrive at a good choice.

The Write-Up

In a Special Topic blogpost, upload your image and address some combination of the following questions in a short paragraph or two.

  1. What source did you choose to remediate, and WHY?  (Why spread this source?  Why try to simplify it this way?)  Please provide a “cut” of the source you’re using, so it’s clear what you’re drawing from or adapting.
  2. In what respects could an audience find this approach to the source more “sticky” or attention grabbing?
  3. What key visual factors drew you to your source image?
  4. What existing memes (if any) did you choose to consult for inspiration, and why?

Complete your image and write-up by Monday, July 15.  Make sure to caption your image, giving credit to wherever you found your source images.  (This is good practice for pretty much anytime.)

Kitteh image from, text loosely adapted from J. Bolter, Writing Space
Kitteh image from, text loosely adapted from J. Bolter, Writing Space

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