[Air-L] CFP for special issue on Internet Memes for Journal of Visual Culture

Laura Portwood-Stacer lportwoodstacer at gmail.com
Mon Nov 5 07:39:36 PST 2012

Please forward to any relevant academic, artist, and activist networks!

*Call for Submissions: Internet Memes and Visual Culture*

* A themed Special Issue of Journal of Visual Culture*

*Issue Guest Editors: Laine Nooney (Stony Brook University) and Laura
Portwood-Stacer (New York University)*

The Editors are currently seeking proposed contributions for a Special
Issue of the *Journal of Visual Culture* on Internet Memes and Visual
Culture, to be published December 2014. The term *meme*, a portmanteau of *
mimesis* and *gene*, was minted in 1976 by British ethologist and
evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Dawkins proposed the meme as a
“unit of cultural transmission,” a self-perpetuating cultural phenomenon
analogous to the gene as a replicator of biological data. Almost 40 years
later, the term “meme” has become the coin of the realm within Internet
subcultures, particularly on microblogging and social network platforms. In
these contexts the designation “meme” identifies digital objects that riff
on a given visual, textual or auditory form. For a digital object to become
a meme, it must be appropriated, re-coded, and slotted back into the
Internet infrastructures it came from—memes require continued user
adaptation. Thus, memes are co-constitutive with the user practices of
creative (re)production that are default modes of communicative interaction
on major social media platforms such as Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, Twitter,
Pinterest, and YouTube. Memes are frequent objects of analysis among
scholars of contemporary digital culture, socio-linguistics, fan culture,
and social networking, wherein they are assessed as forms of generative
vernacular communication and art-making that defy traditional models of
top-down capitalist consumer control of mass media forms. Yet the speed,
volume and insularity of meme-making often frustrates aesthetic, formal and
techno-infrastructural scholarship on memes and meme distribution.

This special issue of the *Journal of Visual Culture* will organize a
conversation among cultural scholars, artists, activists, journalists and
Internet content producers regarding the social, historical, and aesthetic
significance of Internet memes. Our move to “take memes seriously” as
communicative and aesthetic objects is especially timely, as memes'
linguistic tropes, visual styles and means of transmission gain increasing
visibility beyond their origins in online subcultural spaces such as 4chanor
9gag. One of the ways this special issue will take on these questions is by
itself expanding on traditional modes of academic writing. Potential
contributors are thus encouraged to incorporate visual and conceptual
experiments intended to elucidate the meme form, performatively and
materially replicating the phenomenon under study.

The Editors are open to engagements with “Visual Culture” broadly writ.
Contributions may consider the following topics or expand on other ideas,
keeping a particular emphasis on relating memes to the visual:

ñ how memes figure in a broader history of performative, humor-based,
conceptualist, retro, or contemporary digital art practices

ñ the formal aesthetics of different meme types and the technological
infrastructures that undergird them (300x300 macros, supercuts, GIFs,
screengrabs, photobombs, snowclones, etc.)

ñ meme production in non-Western locations (particularly as they may be
tied to political risk or Internet censorship)

ñ meme transmission across national and cultural borders

ñ how (if?) memes have enabled creative producers (particularly queer
people and people of color) to contest presumptions of homogenous Western
whiteness on the Internet

ñ how memes have served as vehicles for political protest and resistance

Proposed contributions may take the form of scholarly articles (5000-7000
words), but the Editors are particularly interested in shorter essays,
graphic essays, and other creative formats. We especially encourage
submissions in formats that can be showcased on the *Journal of Visual
Culture*'s blog and a Tumblr devoted to this special issue.

For a proposed academic paper, please email a single-spaced, extended
abstract of 1000-1200 words that details a projected argument and possible
example cases to be examined. Please also include a brief list of scholarly
sources that will inform your paper (not included in the word count). For a
proposed contribution in another formats (short essay, graphic essay,
conceptual piece, etc.), please email a single-spaced description or artist
statement that details the format and projected content of the submission. *The
deadline for submission of proposals/abstracts is 15 January 2013.* The
Editors expect to make final decisions about accepted contributions by
mid-March 2013. Accepted contributors will be asked to submit their full
contributions by January 2014. The Editors are aware of and open to shifts
in content that may occur as the full submission develops, should the
proposed contribution be accepted for inclusion in the issue.

Inquiries and submission proposals should be directed to both Laine Nooney (
laine.nooney at gmail.com) and Laura Portwood-Stacer (lportwoodstacer at gmail.com).
Emails should include the subject heading: Internet Memes special issue,

Download CFP as pdf:

Laura Portwood-Stacer
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Media, Culture, and Communication
New York University

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