Meme Rhetorical Analysis

Internet memes may have started as a joke, but more and more, they are finding their way into our everyday lives and language. More than just making people laugh, memes also present arguments about our world and how it does, could, and should work—often, arguments relying on faulty reasoning. They are a form of communication that is becoming more and more important in the new visual world, and they not only spread, but mutate as different groups use them for their own purposes.
Assignment
Choose a meme to be the focus of your analysis. You can pick one from Know Your Meme (internet database) or search the internet to find one that you find interesting. The internet is an excellent resource for searching and understanding the context, history, and background of popular memes, so make sure you research all the information.
In 1,300 to 1,500 words (not including of work cited), analyze the text and design of an internet meme by examining the rhetorical situation. You will do this by analyzing what meme says/ argues, how it says it, and by what means its use shapes and is shaped by its context. Based on your findings and critical analysis of the meme, you will also re-design the meme to reflect your understanding of the controversy and how it uses rhetoric to make its point. You can redesign the meme by changing the text or image, or totally create a new one from scratch. If you decide to create a new one, a good source is http://memegenerator.net that has templates.
Your analysis will help your readers understand not just what the meme conveys, but HOW the meme conveys its message. A meme is largely a visual argument, so provide your readers with the details they need to “see” the meme. Do this by including the images of the memes.
Incorporate at least (5) sources, beyond the meme itself, that help you support your ultimate estimation of the meme’s message. Those sources ought to derive from reputable publications and websites, including articles read in class.
Suggestions/questions for analysis:
• What is the background of this topic/meme? What controversy or current event may have prompted the poster? When did it first appear? Can you find its origins? In other words, what’s the historical/social context of the meme?
• How does the meme reflect society, media, or culture?
• What is the meme suggesting about its topic? How do you know this? What does the meme look like? How does the design (if any) reinforce its message? How does it distort the topic or the facts (missing info, binary argument, wrong info, etc…)?
• What rhetorical appeal is being used to make its point(s)? (ethos, pathos, or logos)
• Who is the intended audience for the meme?
• Answering many of the above questions will require research. Certainly rely on your own powers of analysis, but research, actually finding credible sources, is a large part of this assignment.
• Suggest revisions to the meme. Would the meme need to update or altogether change the facts and/or statistics (if any)? Would any further information need to be added to clear up any confusion, or problematic suggestions the original meme was making? How might you change the design? Why? Is it possible to revise the meme without completely altering it? In the end, do you think that a meme format is an appropriate template for your more complex argument?
• Stay focused on the meme’s fairly narrow topic. For instance, if you chose a meme on gun control, make sure you stick to the meme’s narrow point. Trying to tackle the entirety of the gun control debate is simply too much for such a short paper.
Length and Format: At least 1,300 to 1,500 words, typed, double-spaced, 12-point font, Times New Roman, with one-inch margins all around. Please include a Works Cited Page. The Works Cited page should not be included in the total page count.

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