Ironic memes: Digital literacies deep fried
This thesis examines the phenomenon of ironic memes. Drawing on theoretical developments in sociolinguistics, multimodal research, and New Literacy Studies, it explores (a) how ironic memes are designed as multimodal texts through particular semiotic design strategies, and (b) what the cultural significance of their design as such is. Methodologically, a digital ethnographic approach is adopted, based primarily on observation of the subreddit r/ironicmemes along with participant interviews. The approach is complemented by multimodal discourse analysis, drawing primarily on social semiotics, which allows for closer examinations of semiotic design patterns. Our analysis suggests that through ironic memes "ironic memers" jokingly represent personas of users seen as "less literate" in internet memeing than ironic memers themselves are. Ironic memers are thus constructed as a counter-mainstream cultural group based on their "superior" internet memeing literacies. Ironic memes thereby illustrate how cultural identities can emerge around digital literacies based on "playful" online practices.
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