Reading Memes: Rhetorical Analysis of Memes as Multimodal Texts

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jenny Dale, Information Literacy Coordinator and Associate Professor (Creator)
Maggie Murphy, Associate Professor, Art & Design Librarian (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: As a mode of visual communication, internet memes carry a lot of meaning in a concisedigital package.1 While memes were originally defined by Richard Dawkins as “units of culturaltransmission,”2 the term internet memes applies to virtual artifacts in a range of media that arecirculated and iterated upon by many different people.3 Many meme formats combine imageswith text in a slapdash or haphazard way.4 Mixed with the elements of humor and viral iteration,memes have a unique rhetorical impact that can both persuade and provoke.5 As a result, memesare popular tools of social commentary and political discourse and can be used to perpetuateharmful stereotypes and tropes as well as dismantle them.6 Many students make, edit, remix, andswap memes over social media and through direct messaging, but they may not always thinkcritically about the messages in, or behind, the memes they create or exchange.7 How can wecreate opportunities for students to practice reading memes more deliberately? Teacher-scholarshave begun to address this question by sharing classroom approaches to reading and analyzingmemes as visual and/or rhetorical texts.8 In this chapter, we describe how a lesson plan onrhetorical analysis that we used in a Making Memes workshop can be adapted as a librarian-ledcritical reading activity for college students in a range of disciplines and instructional settings.

Additional Information

Teaching Critical Reading Skills Strategies for Academic Librarians, Volume 2, Reading for Evaluation, Beyond Scholarly Texts, and in the World
Language: English
Date: 2023
reading, reading (higher education), individualized reading instruction, academic librarianship, internet memes, memes

Email this document to