Two words: Memes and Literature

Memes. The images and or videos you engage with on a daily basis. Yes, some are humorous. However, memes hold more authority over us than you would initially assume. They define our experiences within this Digital Age in which we live. They spread easily, take on new forms and are constantly evolving, similar to a ‘virus’ (Brodie 2009).

Literature. Defined in many ways but typically described as written work with association to high-brow culture. The role of literature in society is changing as technology does, making this period of time incredibly interesting for us readers. From a graphic novel to a fable, to a poem to an autobiography. Literature too has various forms.

My research began with these two words in mind, memes and literature. Could memes be a modern form of literature in this Digital Age? 

My original question was broad and lacked in context. So, I have chosen to focus on the Digital Age because let’s face it, memes have existed since cavemen and the early stages of visual communication.

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The sources I have uncovered are reliable and allow for various perspectives on these two words I find to be incredibly interesting, memes and literature. I want to hear your perspective of this newly discovered topic. I have created a survey for my stakeholders as I want to gather primary data to analyse. This will ultimately benefit my research project and add depth to my knowledge overall. This is the link to my survey and I would appreciate your participation.

I intend to tweet regularly with updates regarding my project and its progress. Feel free to follow me @sophemacy to remain informed on this relationship between these two words, memes and literature. I will also blog detailed updates for my participants and stakeholders to read.

I welcome any suggestions, questions and or examples relative to this topic via my email


  • Brodie, R 2009, Virus of the Mind: The New Science of Memes, Hay House Inc., 1st edn, pp. 4 -34.

GIF: Feel free to click on the image to be directed to the source



Fame is an unusual concept based on how society values you. Actors, musicians and the incredibly wealthy are who we see to be ‘famous’. The idea of fame seems to be attractive to the general public, but once you’ve got fame does one still want it? Even as a meme star?

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Reddit, the home to many, many, maannnny memes allows everyday people to be “blessed by the meme gods” and receive widespread attention across the internet. The Ermahgerd Girl is a key example of the consequences of being the face of a meme. Maggie Goldenberger was doing what most 23 year olds do – travelling the world when her face begun to spread across the world wide web. This circulation led to new versions being made, from ERMAHGERD GERSBERMS to popular culture classics such as BERTMERNA new language was formed, using an uncommon “R” sound.

[This week’s reading] Vanity Fair concluded with the fact that Goldenberger felt delighted by the internet “laughing with her at the obviously ridiculous character she was playing—not at her” as well as the great feeling of nostalgia. However, Goldenberger was shocked that many years later she was photographed again, not as a character but of herself whilst holidaying in Hawaii.

[side-note: go Goldenberger for always being on holiday]

This picture under took the same process of circulation but with her real name attached. The picture was getting negatively attacked by internet users and continued to widely spread. This is when the internet ruins its own greatness as all the unnecessary negativity holds power.

So I ask, would you like to be the face of a meme like Goldenberger or these guys?

It seems the ultimate meme formula includes a relatable image to interpret, the ability to caption that image and the image’s durability; to remade over and over.

I re-created The Ermahgerd Girl meme to reflect today’s context:



To be or not to be?

Citizen journalism allows for ordinary people, like you or I to be content producers with no gatekeepers required.


With this in mind, would you be a citizen journalist or are you already?

The internet has allowed a wonderful power shift to occur within this age of information. Content can be watched, read and engaged with from a range of devices. It is no longer a case of restricting yourself to watching the typical six o’clock news on a television but a choice of what, where and who. Speaking for myself, I mostly read my news from Twitter or from online publications. Content made from either @internet_user99 or The New York Times can be equally relevant.

The reliance on citizen journalism is absolute as the public can spread necessary information to each other without forced agenda or financial incentives. Jeff Deutchman, the director of 11/4/08 said “…there is something really interesting about the level of democracy involved in using crowd-sourced footage.” In his film 11/4/08, Deutchman used crowd-sourced footage to justify the documentary’s purpose; to show the direct result of Barack Obama getting elected as the 44th President of the United States.

Deutchman alluded to the fact that filmmaking is no longer as traditional as a “top-down structure where the director is in control” but a form of collaboration with the public, including citizen journalists. Both film-makers and journalists record culture and reflect upon it whilst citizen journalists are figures of culture.

Moral of the story, the internet is the best as it allows for citizen journalism to thrive (and because it’s home to the dankest memes).



Image: Feel free to click on the image and it will direct to the source

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“The notion of glitch is also present in other realms of contemporary culture, where the reuse and remix of existing elements into something new is fundamental.”

Have you ever been in the process of crafting something when an aspect goes wrong but somehow you enjoy it more than your initial idea?

*cue the introduction into  _-_/G  L !TcH..> art *

Which piece do you find more aesthetically pleasing? (see below).

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’13’ courts 01 (2007-2012) Ward Roberts 
1947 film noir, Nora Prentiss glitch by Hugh Manon

What about now…

Is your answer still the same?

A reinvention of the original image is made. This as a result changes the definition of its initial art-form (from photography to glitch art). It is no longer simply a photograph but now a short animation with multiple digital layers. The aesthetics have also altered, from pastels to several colour schemes. The still image is now brought to life through its conversion into a different medium. By changing mediums, the piece itself has differing effects on you. As an image – there is no interaction but as an animation the audience are active observers.

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I’ve made my own piece of glitch art (below). Initially, it was a painting from many centuries ago and now it’s transformed into a digital animation within the present century.

Tweet me @sophemacy what you think.


We’re all participants!

You’ve just finished a great book. It’s gotten a lot of hype on a mass scale, so then it is made into a film. From the film, a soundtrack is made. Now, you’ve read a book, watched a movie and listened to a soundtrack but the engagement with that text doesn’t yet end. From there, a game is now being developed with an app to follow. Along the way, this text has gained and perhaps lost ‘fans’ with their interaction with each medium. As a form of convergence, this text is no longer just one. (Lord of the Rings, amrite)

As a result of media convergence, we’re now left with a string of possibilities to choose from in regard to medium. In today’s context, a book, movie, soundtrack and game can be all within the one device – your smartphone. The technology being your smartphone, the audience being the fans and the industries being inclusive of publishing, film and gaming.


Media convergence allows the users and fans to become more and more active. Due to this, audiences are no longer passive. To use Lord of the Rings as an example, the fans continue to create and share content across all media platforms, especially Twitter

Are you totally obsessed … with media convergence?