Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Meme theory
Author: Wark, Scott
ISNI:       0000 0004 8505 236X
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2019
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
The internet meme is one of contemporary online culture’s definitive media. They’re widely distributed online and, in the past few years, have had an increasingly large impact on offline culture as well. The premise of this thesis is that the internet meme poses a theoretical problem for media theory, because they’re difficult to conceptualise as media. This thesis uses this premise as the basis for a wide-ranging epistemological analysis of how we practice media theory in the present. The internet meme, it argues, exemplifies a wide-ranging problem in media theory: that the discipline has yet to adequately conceptualise circulation. This is problematic for the internet meme, because it’s defined by its capacity to mutate as it’s circulated by users. It’s also problematic more broadly, because the circulation of media is central to our contemporary media situation. This thesis frames this problem by arguing that our contemporary media situation is “indeterminate”; that is, that massive distribution and ubiquitous media challenge our capacity to think media in the present. In response, it uses the internet meme as the fulcrum for a series of propositions about how media theory might respond. To think circulation, it adopts a method from the history and philosophy of science known as “historical epistemology”. It uses this method to analyse circulation as a concept—rather than through its theoretical frameworks—and to establish why it remains undertheorised in media theory. It uses this analysis to argue that circulation is a foundational media theoretical concept; to reconstruct this concept; and to posit an approach to thinking media in the present that it calls “meme theory”. This approach is characterised by emphasising the epistemological influence that media exercise over our theories of them. By positing a new concept of circulation, a new method of analysis—media-historical epistemology—and a new approach to practicing media theory, this thesis argues that to think media in the present, we have to understand how they shape our media-theoretical epistemologies in turn. The circulating internet meme helps us to understand how we might do this.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BD Speculative Philosophy ; HM Sociology ; P Philology. Linguistics