Meme Analysis

General Course Outline for Background Info:

This course introduces students to the study of information as a domain of warfare and as a component of national security. This course highlights both conventional and critical approaches to the study of information as well as how national security threats are created and perceived. The empirical focus of this course is on the present day and aims to shed light on some of the contemporary issues in the information warfare domain, such as fake news, disinformation and misinformation campaigns, state-sponsored propaganda, and the use of new media by states and non-state actors.

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Although the empirical focus is on the present day, students who take this course will also come away with a broader understanding of the historical roots of Fake News and misinformation and will see that Fake News is not a new or novel issue. The uniqueness of the current situation, however, is the speed at which Fake News can spread and propagate. Students will also learn about some of the key tools driving the spread of Fake News, including the latest developments in media forensics (manipulation and detection) and AI-driven technologies.

Assignment Details:

Given the focus that the course places on information, misinformation, and disinformation, students will be asked to select a prominent meme from the 2020 Presidential election and analyse its content. In particular, students will be asked to:

1. Identify the message.
2. Identify the frame through which the message is being communicated.
3. Does the meme carry different messages for different audiences? E.g. Pepe the Frog is strongly linked to white-supremacist / alt-right groups, but to anybody else he may just be a frog.
4. What information is lacking / deliberately missing from the meme?
5. What information would be necessary to ‘complete’ the message? I.e., does the meme deliberately make use of misleading context?
6. Why is the meme effective?
7. Does it play on established motifs?
8. Who are the in-groups and who are the out-groups?
The meme analysis report should be approximately 750 words in length.

Here is the Suggested meme, however, should you have trouble with this meme, please select another one:

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