Memes & Classroom Pedagogy: notes on my peers’ teaching day

Woo! I’m live-blogging Bri, Allison, and Brandon’s teaching day on Memes. My *favorite*.

We are starting by watching our school’s Harlem Shake. Ron says, “…is an idiot’s tale, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

So memes are a symbol or image that refers to a thing. signifier and signified. Memes can be textual or visual. Leave impressions.


1). Internet meme- visual social commentary

2). Meme- an idea that spreads around culture.

4Chan. Is life just a meme?

What are the limitations of memetic communication, Bri asks. Allison says, “Image macro.” Idea from something else, pictures do this; the words attached make the meaning something else.

I ask of this: are the two definitions that different?

Then, Brandon urges me to ask, “What makes a meme a meme?” Genes, from Richard Dawkins, are like dna memes, that can be passed on and vital. Biocultural movements and evolution, perhaps image macros are moving culture forward.

Semiotic Analysis PowerPoint is happening now. “A Rough and Tumble…”

Enter: Saussure. Signifier and Signified. There “is not necessarily a concrete connection between them.” Signifier: “Rose” Signified: pic of rose. Signified 2: “passion.” ick.

Now: Kristeva’s big idea is Intertextuality. “Two axes of code” Yes, they’re torturing me by forcing me to watch this.

Just so you all know, I made these awesome once.

I’m not following the discussion right now. I must have gotten excited about Derrida. Token and type is confuse.

Bri emphasized how this meme shows Toto as the signifier and the two signifieds: dog AND 70s super group. Then just good pedagogy:

Have a group of students work with different tokens of the same type of meme. They can discuss the various iterations of their particular meme type and try to trace an evolution of reference along what Kristeva would call the political praxis.


Semiotic Democracy: (<<badassery!)

The People can fight back against Dominant culture via internet memes. (*totes* need this in the thesis) “We can use the Internet to fight back against more vicious elements of our culture, like the over-sexualization of young girls by fighting back with more democratic images.” Kristen brought up the Binders Full of Women meme as a People’s reaction to a harmful comment.

*Have students research copyright/copyfight issues and the idea of Semiotic Democracy. Have them craft their own memes in response to their findings. Perhaps challenge them to work only with materials that are licensed under Creative Commons. (fantastic idea, peers!) I have texts that go with this if anyone who wants it.

They gave us some sweet resources, which I’ll link here.


Allison is now showing us all about Joseph Harris’s Rewriting.

Moves of rewriting:

– Coming to terms

– Forwarding

– Countering

– Taking an approach

– Revising

*Forwarding*: great for memes. “taking something and moving it forward in another context”

Dude, know your meme.


This was ahmazing.

Basicially what Allison is teaching me is to know my dialectic. ;) how’s that philosoraptor? lol.


The amazing Brandon’s turn:

Etymology and how memes “take off.”

His post is titled “Socio-Cultural Implications/Semiotic Democracy”:

There are legitimate memes and deadpool memes. Short answer to how to make something memetic is elusive. Ad-agencies can’t figure out. This brings up the distinction between “forced memes” made by capitalist, Dominant culture vs. Semiotic Democracy memes made by the People. With semiotic democracy, nobody controls a meme once it is out in the wild <Saying no to memes makes a meme.

Explore rhetorical affordances, make a meme yourself or collaboratively! Brandon just threw down amalgamates too, like a bawse. Good stuff there.

Bri: you don’t need a computer. Have students bring in magazines and make their own memes. <<cool idea!

I love all this stuff. What a wonderful teaching day, peers.







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