It Me: Genre, Identity, and the Impact of Memes

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This project explores the intersections of genre and identity. Specifically, this project considers the ways in which identity can be situated through digital artefacts such as memes. Drawing upon the ideas of multiple scholars, this project discusses Rhetorical Genre Studies and genre as social action. Combining these notions with Bradley Wiggins’ three-step process of the memetic genre, I assert that memes themselves are not only representations of identity, but that they can also function as identity makers in general. In other words, the social action of the memetic genre is identification. Furthermore, the project discusses the way this identification occurs. In short, memes are sites of identity creation through their inherent persuasiveness. Further asserting this point, the project examines a series of case studies featuring notable memes and an actual discourse community. Through these case studies, I demonstrate both the generification of memes and the ways in which identities, communal or individual, can form around memes, a process I call “memetic identification.” In doing so, this project intends to affirm memes not only as a genre, but also as invaluable cultural artifacts, both on the micro and macro scale.