Internet Memes (work-in-progress)

Thanks to the flexibility of "May Term" at Transylvania University, I get to teach a class about internet memes in May 2025 πŸ˜ƒ. This syllabus is in its earliest stages, so send me ideas and check back to see how it shapes up!


I am currently reviewing a range of potential books and other materials to use in class, including:

  • Memes in Digital Culture by Limor Shiffman
  • Extremely Online by Taylor Lorenz
  • Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch
  • The Meme Machine by Susan Blackmore
  • The World Made Meme: Public Conversations and Participatory Media by Ryan Milner

Another area involves the real people in popular meme pictures, for example:


An academic lens on memes can draw from a wide range of topics:

  • Mimesis and imagination (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
  • Memetics and Evolutionary memes (Richard Dawkins)
  • Mimetic theory (RenΓ© Girard)
  • Network theory
  • Network analysis
  • Communication infrastructure
  • Communication theory


  • Meme Archaeology. Students will do a deep dive on a sound, trend, hashtag, image, or other meme to pin down its origins.
  • Meme Evolution. Students will trace how memes and their meanings change over time.
  • Meme Networks. Using network software (e.g. networkx or igraph), students will construct and analyze a network of actors who use a given meme.
  • Going Viral. Students will share some piece(s) of media to the internet with the goal of reaching as many people as possible.