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Memes – The Harbinger of Neo-literature

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By: Ankita Mukherjee

With the proliferation of social media, people are now unlikely to read text-books. In the new era of digital media, the gap in between the literary classics or novels and the online websites of literature is getting blurry. Literature is now more accessible as it unfurls within the reader’s palm.

Memes are the neo-literature. When an idea is presented through a meme, it gets circulated and every user can improvise and come up with their own interpretation. In the digital media, the memes get filtered with literary terms with a humorous touch.

The term ‘Intertextuality’, implies that all texts, in a broad sense, are intertextual. Coined by Julia Kristeva, based on the Bakhtinian notion, that every utterance is independent and interrelated to what has previously been said. According to Kristeva, any text is constructed of a mosaic of quotations and is the absorption and transformation of another.

The websites like Sparknotes, Academics, Pennsound (a podcast site which produces audio literature), which summarize literary classics for the easy accessibility of their readers. To lighten the mood, these websites create accounts on Instagram (lit.memery, lit_english_memes, Sparknotes) and share memes on these classics to make them more palatable and approachable to the audience.

Before the advent of social media, intertextuality was observed in films like the adaptations of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. By the creation of memes using literary classics as examples, these websites take intertextuality a step further. And, now memes are proposing the fact that they are the new form of literature.

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