Acasă Articole RTR Visual Humor through Internet Memes. Iconicity, Irony, and Virality in the Digital...

Visual Humor through Internet Memes. Iconicity, Irony, and Virality in the Digital Age (I)


Visual Humor through Internet Memes. Iconicity, Irony and Virality in the Digital Age (I)

As contemporary instances of visual and iconic discourse, memes represent the most accessible form of entertainment as of today. Their huge online success goes back to a few characteristics of their content, such as humor, intertextuality, quick reception, and others, mostly related to their free and fully accessible circulation, with an ever-present potential of going viral. The memes’ discursive nature can be exploited in interdisciplinary studies with a view to the pragmatics of complementary languages (visual and verbal), the meta-languages, as well as to the perlocutionary effects of a social and cultural nature, that are quantifiable nowadays in the digital medium. This article contains a theoretical and a practical part, the latter consisting in exemplification by analyzing a meme on a subject of transgenderism, whereas the interpretation activates two sides: (1) humor generated by the iconic discourse, and (2) the memes’ potential of stigmatizing.

Keywords: meme, Internet, virality, iconicity, visual discourse, digital humor.


Bergson, Henri. Teoria râsului [Laughter], second edition. Iași: Institutul European, 1998.
Cannizzaro, Sara. “Internet memes as internet signs: A semiotic view of digital culture.” Sign Systems Studies 44, no. 4 (2016).
Castells, Manuel. The Internet Galaxy – Reflections on the Internet, Business, and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Chandler, Robert. Meme World Syndrome: A Critical Discourse Analysis Of The First World Problems And Third World Success Internet Memes. Orlando: University of Central Florida, Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2013.
Davison, Patrick. “The Language of Internet Memes”. In The Social Media Reader, edited by Michael Maniberg, 120–134. New York: New York University Press, 2012.
Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Denisova, Anastasia. Internet Memes and Society. New York: Routledge, 2019.
Distin, K. The selfish meme: A critical reassessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Dougherty, Beth. “Comic Relief: Using Political Cartoons in the Classroom.” International Studies Perspectives 3 (2002): 258–270. doi:10.1111/1528-3577.00095.
Hahner, Leslie A. “The Riot Kiss: Framing Memes as Visual Argument.” Argumentation and Advocacy 49, no. 3 (2013): 151-166.
Lehman, Christopher, Rowland J. Nicholas, and Knapp A. Jeffrey. “Memes in Digital Culture, edited by Limor Shifman. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014)”, book review. The Information Society 32 (2016).
Shifman, Limor. Memes in Digital Culture. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2014.
Taecharungroj Viriya, and Pitchanut Nueangjamnong. “Humour 2.0: Styles and Types of Humour and Virality of Memes on Facebook”. Journal of Creative Communications 10, no. 3 (2015): 288–302.
Wiggins, Bradley E. The Discursive Power of Memes in Digital Culture. Ideologies, Semiotics and Intertextuality. New York & London: Routledge, 2019.

Quora – Forum Reply, Acevedo-Sanchez M. Leyshla, How is a true meme made popular?
Consiliul Național Pentru Combaterea Discriminării, Formele Discriminării
KnowYour Meme, Computer Reaction Faces.
Oxford English online dictionary (2nd ed.), Meme.