What Makes a Meme Rhetorically Successful?

a final

Shifman focuses on the presentational aspects of memes. But there are rhetorical elements at work, too.

Memes, we have seen, are persuasive, and they demonstrate their persuasiveness by spread. Persuasive memes spread. Un-persuasive memes die out. And spread, we have seen, demands work - both in skills that the meme-maker brings to the meme, and in creating a derivation that will also be as successful as others - as funny, as clever, as biting, as persuasive. That's work.

This means that there are rhetorical aspects at work - elements of a meme that make it persuasive, that argue, "This is worth the work to vary and spread."

Your task for this final is to analyze those elements and consider what makes them persuasive.

How to proceed


Use your selected meme to address this issue: What makes this meme rhetorically successful?

To develop your analysis, consider the following, and bring your consideration of these into your analysis:

Part 2

Start a new heading in your work titled Rhetorical Effectiveness.

You've addressed in your analysis HOW the meme persuades. That is, you've looked at

For the final section of your analysis, address how rhetorically effective the meme is. Now that you've stood back and analyzed the meme, you're turning your attention to evaluating the meme, drawing on your analysis for evidence and support.

Draw on your analysis itself and the examples you used in your analysis to address this question in about 500 well-argued words:

How rhetorically successful is this meme? That is, how effectively does it persuade?

Consider that the implied rhetor and the intended audience probably changed with different derivatives of the meme. How will you address that in your evaluation of rhetorical effectiveness?

To address this request, review chaps 1 - 3 of Longaker to remind yourself about implied rhetors and intended audiences, presentational enthymemes, and the use of logos, pathos, and ethos.


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