Digital memes and US pop politics. Dynamism and pervasiveness of a digital genre in the mobile Web era


Abstract – This paper analyses US political memes relating mainly to the Obama and Trump presidencies as an illustration of a subgenre shaped by today’s mobile culture, and thus part of the rise of new forms of digital textuality. In particular, the study explores the connection between technology, participatory culture and the entrenchment of memes as a multimodal genre within political discourse. The illustration of the diffusion of this political meme subgenre as a grass roots phenomenon, generated and distributed through social media, is illuminated by the article’s focus on the often ironic comments it makes about US politics. By reconstructing the evolution of digital memes in this period and illustrating and exemplifying the textual processes that give this political subgenre its unique forcefulness, the article concludes that digital memes have embraced textual forms – based on mass media and shared authorship – that are certainly informal and often offensive, but which also testify to a vision of politics which is interpretable within the wider framework of US popular culture, the American Dream in particular.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v30p45

Keywords: digital meme; genre dynamism; recontextualization; social media; political discourse


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