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[Commlist] CfP: Memes: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism?

Thu Jan 30 23:21:53 GMT 2020

    Memes: The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism?

Annual Digital Culture Conference / King's College London - Friday 15th May 2020

Meme has become a by-word of contemporary digital culture. This term has been used to described simplified contents such as captioned macro pictures, short-videos, recurring phrases and all sorts of internet fads that we find on social media. With their penchant for humour and sarcasm, their remixability, irony and recursivity, memes are an interesting object of study because they seem to embody much of what is unique about digital culture vis-a-vis pre-digital cultures. Furthermore, they have become the privileged means through which all sorts of new online contents travel, from extremist propaganda, to social and political issue formation, to celebrity fandom and trolling.

What does the prominence of internet memes tell us about our society at a time of profound crises of capitalism? What do some of memes' recurring characters such as the Wojaks, Virgin vs. Chad and all sorts of variations on Spongebob and BoJack Horseman, tell us about the emerging fears and preoccupations of our society? Are memes simply a neutral medium that can fit any content, or do they carry their own bias and specificities? And if so what is the dominant cultural spirit of memes? Are they the reflection of an hyper-reflective society that cannot take itself seriously and which is caught into self-introspection and presentism? Or do they offer hope of constructive self-criticism and potentials for social and political imagination?

Building on emerging research, this conference will explore the broader societal implications of memes and meme culture, and what they can tell us about digital cultures, politics and societies in the contemporary moment. Our conference will explore the role of memes in our society, exploring a number of themes and perspectives, including but not limited to:


    memes linguistics – namely the grammar, tropes and rhetorics
    inherent to memes;


    meme characters – namely the meaning of some recurring meme figures
    such as the Wojaks and what kind of content they convey;


    memers – the nature, identity and work of people producing memes;


      the forms and formats of memes – including the rise of meme
    formats (including through tools such as “Make a Meme”, “Meme
    Generator”) and how video, text and all sorts of cultural contents
    besides captioned images are becoming “meme-like”;


    “memospheres” – including methods and approaches for large-scale
    studies of online memes, as well as emerging archives, repositories
    and memory practices for documenting meme culture (e.g. “Know Your


    memes as “networked content” and “platformised content” – and how
    memes as an emerging form of cultural production shape and are
    shaped by the logics, economics, temporalities, grammars and
    vernaculars of social media platforms, chat apps, the web and other
    online spaces


    The art of memes - are memes an art form? what do the politics of
    memetic aesthetics tell us about memetic culture and politics? What
    is the role of creativity in meme culture?


    Memes and the nation -  how do memes adapt to local and national

    Submission Guidelines

To participate in the conference please submit a 250 word abstract by February 15th via EasyChair

Responses will be sent by February 28th. The conference will take place on May 15th 2020 at King’s College London.

Full papers (5,000 words) are due on April 15th 2020.


All questions about submissions and the conference should be emailed to

(digitalculture /at/

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