Clark University Professor Launches Course On Memes

WORCESTER, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — You may think social media is a waste of time, but some students at Clark University call it homework.

Associate Professor of Screen Studies Hugh Manon teaches a semester-long course called “Meme Culture and Comedy Theory," which centers on what he describes as funny images or sounds that get reiterated and repeated through different forms on the internet.

If you're still not familiar with the term — a prime example of a meme would be the image of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders sitting in a foldup chair that circulated across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram following President Joe Biden's inauguration.

"[Students] get to study something that they’re really deeply interested in, at the same time, they get what’s good for them, which is really rigorous, high level thought," Mason said.

Mason said that for younger adults, memes can translate into "cultural capital" in terms of how people communicate in their daily lives.

“It was shocking to me the extent to which students felt like they were getting news through memes,” he said.

He added that memes have also become increasingly relevant to political discourse and the way we express and share ideas, further emphasizing that the topic is worthy of a full college course.

“It would have been really easy to dismiss meme culture as something that was just frivolous and not worth paying attention to, and boy that was wrong," he said. "I think you could easily teach a course like this that’s pure fluff, and really wouldn’t accomplish anything, so yeah, I sort of amp up the difficulty level.”

WBZ’s Matt Shearer (@MattWBZ) reports.

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(Photo: Getty Images)

Written by Rachel Armany

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