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There’s a Durham student writing her dissertation on memes

No, we aren’t talking about the Richard Dawkins kind


Adriana Torres Plaza, from Washington D.C. is a third year student studying Combined Honors in Geography and International relations. She has decided to sit down and write a good 10,000 words on memes. Yes, memes.

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The meme queen also makes her own memes!

Memes, as you know, are a 21st century phenomenon existing on our newsfeed, every day. They are accessible and extremely relatable. Consider Gemma Collins? Elf on a shelf? Protec and attac? Student problems? And all the rest! Well Ariana is writing about them. 

The Combined Honors in Geography and International relations student has decided to look at "Memes as an expression of Neoliberalism; naturalizers of individualism and competition or vehicles for a new collective life".  

Adriana holds that "memes are a new and notable form of expression, political mobilisation and social critique." and that the way "memes convey ideas in such an efficient, clever and humorous manner has a lot of value, and studying them can reveal a lot about society".

Luckily, we were as curious about this dissertation as you are, so we asked her a few questions. 

What did your peers say when they heard about this? 

They were like this is so classic.

More so, what did your supervisor say when they heard about this? 

I was originally going to study memes in the context of the US presidential election, and my supervisor is American, so I like to believe the first conversation was a low key bonding moment. 

What do you predict you'll conclude? 

Take part in my study and I'll let you know. 

What exactly will the research process be like? 

I'm conducting interviews where I ask participants to bring in two memes that reflect 'how they feel their life/future'.  So, in addition to some standardised questions, I ask specific ones about their chosen memes!

I'm trying got find patterns in the ideas, emotions and behaviours reflected in the memes. And also the significance people's interaction with them. 

What's your personal favourite meme?

Probably any meme with kermit the frog because he's so shady and always looks distressed. …It's so absurd that a puppet can demonstrate how people feel.

I also live for wholesome memes, or really weird niche ones that make no sense. Overall, I don’t have an all time favourite meme. 

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Apparently this one made her particulary laugh.

So, if you relate to memes on a spiritual level and you really can't live without them this is some research suited for you. Send an email to; [email protected] to get involved.