Journal of Visual Culture: Special Issue on Internet Memes
When the Journal of Visual Culture invited me to put together a special issue about internet memes, I thought the idea was ludicrous. It was 2012, and although memes were enjoying fresh celebrity status, not many people were studying them from an academic perspective. Even so, I sat down with colleague Laura Portwood-Stacer to brainstorm, and we made a list of everyone we thought we’d like to hear from if we could pull off a "dream" issue. Then we emailed them. And to our surprise, almost everyone agreed to do it.
By design, the contributors ran the gamut from faculty and grad students to bloggers and artists. We sought out specialists to cover specific areas of interest: Kate Brideau and Charles Berret wrote about the Impact typeface, Patrick Davison contributed an article about the history of MS Paint, and Jason Eppink wrote a piece about the evolution of the GIF file format. We even obtained Randall Munroe’s permission to include an xkcd comic.
We knew from the outset that internet culture moves faster than scholarship can keep up. So, instead of focusing on particular memes, we envisioned the issue as a time capsule: a snapshot of the contexts and characteristics of today’s meme culture, preserved for the researchers of tomorrow.
The completed issue, published in December 2014, was the first issue of an academic journal devoted to the subject of internet memes. It was also free to read and share: in keeping with the open-access politics of internet culture, we worked with Sage Publications to ensure that the issue would not have a paywall. Explore the issue yourself!
Images featured are from the Journal of Visual Culture Internet Memes issues, 13.3, December 2014.