MEME101 Course Outline [DRAFT]


  • Reasoning and justification for importance of the subject matter
  • Aims of the course
  • Outline of the course

The meme concept

  • Dawkinsian memetics
  • Memeology
  • The continued relevance of the biological analogy
  • The ontology of memes
  • The metaphysics of memes
  • The need for a new concept of memes


  • Pre-Internet memecultures in Japan
  • 2ch and 4chan
  • Korean counterparts
  • Video game subcultures and MMORPG
  • The concept of memecultures

Ironic Memes

  • Meme Clash Theory: the interaction between normies and ironists during the early phase of mainstreaming
  • Historical Alliteration Memes
  • The Academeme

Meta-Ironic Memes

  • The Quadrant Model
  • Surreal Memes as an example of meta-irony
  • Meme death and memetic de-extinction
  • The concept of dead memes and flat contexts
  • Fighting the tide of flatness and meme death

Post-Ironic Memes

  • The Quadrant Model in light of the Meme Clash Theory
  • Competition between post-irony and meta-irony
  • Gondola as the most important meme of the decade
  • Wojak as the most significant meme of the decade
  • The dream of the timeless meme
  • Meme-aesthetics
  • Make Meaningful Memes

Meme-Politics and Meta-politics

  • The politics of memes
  • Memecultural politics
  • Memetic political philosophies
  • Meta-politics as memetic politics

Folk-Memetics and Meme Magic

  • Rituals and relics as spiritual technology
  • Memes as rituals
  • Memes as games, memes as environment
  • The concept of meme magic
  • The bookkeeping theory of genes and memes

Memetic Literacy

  • Literacy as placeholder concept
  • Criteria for memetic literacy (meme historical knowledge; fluency; vocabulary; grammar; social and cultural knowledge)
  • Simplicity and Complexity in memes
  • Memetic literacy and democracy
  • Memetic literacy and post-irony


  • In-group psychology and sociology of subcultures
  • Normies as a caricature of the out-group unique to memecultures
  • Memetic essentialism
  • Normie essentialism
  • Relativist, historicist and contextualist views on normies
  • The need for a Normie Studies
  • Memetic literacy and the Post-Normie Era

International Meme Studies

  • The concept of the memetic niche and the social and cultural environment
  • Platforms and geography
  • 2ch, DC Inside and 4chan
  • Meme translation
  • Memetic drift
  • Geographical and linguistic boundaries and meme speciation

Memetic Engineering

  • Artificial selection, the neo-Darwinian revolution, and genetic engineering
  • Memetic engineering as a concept
  • Conceptual engineering and conceptual activism
  • Conceptual activism as memetic engineering
  • Memetic biodiversity and conservation memetics
  • Making meaningful memes and the ethics of meme studies

This is wonderful! One question I have is format of classes; is it like a set of case studies (my vote), or classes that cover topics textbook style (for lack of a better word). Also, I don’t fully get the gondala/wojak part, don’t understand their particular inclusion.

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I'm not sure what you mean by the class VS case studies VS textbook style. Could you explain what each is?

The Gondola VS Wojak part is about postironic memes and metaironic memes, and the two were selected for being striking examples to explain the dynamics. I may modify this part later on.

I’m not perfectly sure what I mean either lol, but I think it’s like would it be taught chronologically like a history class, where you discuss effects and analyze things as they happened, or like a literature class where you start with a meme and expand the class/lesson from that point; as I type it out, I think different sections of the syllabus lend themselves to different styles, but I’m curious as to your opinion on an ideal format for a class. From an educational standpoint, how the information is presented can influence what students take away from the class: present everything with an emphasis on history and continuity, and that can bleed in presumptions and after the fact analyses. Whereas a case study style (where you start with a meme and then expand outward in your analysis), class may be inclined towards fundamental concepts and defining characteristics. And there are many more ways of structuring classes. Hope that makes sense, what do you think?

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That's a really interesting idea, about starting with a meme and expanding the class from that point. We could test out different approaches and see which ones work best for which topic.

For the MEME101 course, I had a really straightforward and basic design in mind: a roughly chronological picture of meme history and meme studies as the core, with readings presented in a pair to be read comparatively, and with explanations of case studies to contextualise the theory. This discussion is making me wonder if it might serve us well to devote a section to this kind of debate about metamemetics, but that may be premature.

I think that meme studies, more than most topics, frequently runs into trouble with different theories of history. That's not the least because it was at the outset an evolutionary theory of culture, and all evolutionary theories are about history. I've been learning that art historians have had precisely the same kind of debates about their own theories of history over the past centuries, and that's been invaluable as a point of reference.

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Is there a full list of readings? Btw I have my own website (lol) and I can post the whole course on there with a wix plugin if you're thinking MOOC.

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I'll put together the full list of reading materials at a later date! We have a Moodle set up so that part is taken care of (but I wonder if mirroring the courses might be a good way to make them more accessible for students and educators).

This looks very cool! Where is this class/when will it be running?

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It's intended as a MOOC, but I haven't begun production on it yet!

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