Posts Tagged ‘memes’

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Assignment: Make A Writing/Learning Meme

posted: 9.17.13 by Traci Gardner

I like to begin a term with composing activities that help me learn about students’ background as readers and writers. I usually ask students to write some kind of literacy narrative (which I wrote about in this month’s Ink’d In). I’ve also created and gathered prompts on writing about writing that I use as formal or informal assignments. [read more]

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Categories: Traci Gardner
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Of Myths and Memes

posted: 5.19.11 by Jack Solomon

As I have noted here before, one of the key concepts involved in cultural semiotics is that of cultural mythologies.  A mythology is a worldview, ideology, or value that shapes a society’s apprehension and understanding of reality.  As such, of course, a mythology is an element in what is commonly called the “social construction of reality.”

The idea that reality is socially constructed has been a popular one since the advent of structuralism approximately a century ago, having been much enhanced through the writings of such poststructural writers as Michel Foucault.  So popular has the concept been within the Humanities that reality itself often vanishes as a topic of theoretical inquiry.  Many years ago I published a book (Discourse and Reference in the Nuclear Age) that attempted to restore reality to the semiotic equation through the exploration of what I called a “potentialist realism,” but while this is no place to reiterate the argument of that book, what I would like to do briefly in this blog is to show that even when making use of such socially constructive concepts as cultural mythologies, one need not lose sight of the reality beyond mythology, and how that reality can make itself felt in spite of our constructions.

I’ll begin with a brief description of an attempt over the past few decades to bring semiotic theory in line with modern biology and evolutionary theory.  This was the introduction into semiotics of the concept, first formulated by Richard Dawkins, of the meme (not to be confused with the more recent Internet-related usage of the word).  A meme is a cultural unit of information that is analogous to a gene; that is, just as genes pass on genetic information that is shaped by the evolutionary process of natural selection, so too, in theory,do memes pass on cultural information by way of socially selective processes. [read more]

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Categories: Popular Culture, Semiotics
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